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Food safety fundamentals

Keep it clean.

Wash your hands often
Wash with warm, soapy water before preparing any food and after handling raw meats, poultry or fish. Good hand washing can help to eliminate nearly half of all cases of food-borne illness.

Clean kitchen surfaces
To prevent the growth of bacteria, it’s important to keep all kitchen surfaces clean, including your appliances, countertops, cutting boards and cooking utensils. Wash your kitchen surfaces with hot, soapy water and a commercial sanitizing agent.

Wash your produce
Remove soil and residue from your fresh fruits and vegetables by washing them thoroughly under cold running water prior to serving. Trim any bruised areas before eating. This will reduce the risk of consuming harmful bacteria, which may be present naturally in the environment.

Sanitize your kitchen sponges
Heat a wet kitchen sponge in a microwave-safe dish in the microwave oven for approximately two minutes so that it achieves an internal temperature of 160 degrees to kill harmful bacteria.

Store cleaning supplies safely
Store chemicals in their original containers and out of the reach of small children. Keep cleaning supplies in a dry, locked cabinet or in areas away from food products or other chemicals they may react with.

Separate for safety.

Segregate stored foods
Keep raw meats and juices away from foods that are ready-to-eat to prevent cross-contamination. Store raw meats and poultry at the bottom of the refrigerator so that they don’t drip on other foods. Store fruits and vegetables in drawers, separate from raw meats, poultry and seafood.

Don’t cross-contaminate
Use separate cloths, sponges and towels for washing dishes, wiping counters and tables, and wiping hands. Clean dishes should be air-dried.

Code your cutting boards
Use two cutting boards in your kitchen: one to cut raw meats, poultry and seafood and the other for ready-to-eat foods like breads, fruits and vegetables.

Keep foods out of the danger zone
Germs that cause food-borne illnesses grow rapidly between the temperatures of 40 degrees and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s important to…

Keep cold foods cold
Foods should be kept at 40 degrees F. or below to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. Use an appliance thermometer to check the temperature of your refrigerator, and check it regularly to ensure food safety and quality. Store raw meat, poultry and seafood in the coldest part of your refrigerator.

Keep hot foods hot
Cook all foods well. Foods that are being served hot should be kept above 140 degrees F. to prevent the growth of bacteria. Reheated foods should be brought to a temperature of at least 165 degrees.

Be careful mixing
Never mix freshly prepared foods in with leftovers, or raw foods with those that have been already cooked. This increases the chance for contamination by harmful bacteria.

Cook and serve safely.

Double up on cooking utensils
Use separate cooking utensils and platters when putting raw meats on the grill and taking cooked meats off the grill to prevent cross-contamination with harmful bacteria.

Read the label
Read the product label carefully for food-handling instructions, including storage and code dates. Never store any foods labeled "Keep refrigerated" in the pantry. Look for "best if used by" or "use by" dates for optimum quality and safety.

Chill foods well
Chill hot foods safely by using shallow dishes (no deeper than two inches) that will cool food quickly to prevent the growth of bacteria. Keep foods out of the temperature danger zone (40 degrees to 140 degrees Fahrenheit).

Defrost your foods safely
Foods can be safely defrosted in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave oven but never at room temperature.

Marinate foods safely
Foods can be safely marinated in a covered glass or metal bowl in the refrigerator – not on the counter.

Cook foods well
Use a meat thermometer to determine proper doneness of cooked meats and poultry. Cook whole poultry to 180 degrees F.; ground turkey and chicken to 165 degrees F.; ground beef, lamb, veal and pork to 160 degrees F.; meat roasts, fresh pork, and steaks to 145 degrees F (3 minute rest time before carving and consuming); and eggs or egg dishes to 160 degrees F. Fish should be cooked until it flakes easily.

Serve food safely
Foods should not be left at room temperature (the DANGER ZONE) for more than two hours at a time to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. Cover and chill foods quickly in shallow dishes after serving.

Taste safely
When tasting food, ladle a small amount of it into a dish and taste it with a clean spoon. Do not use the same ladle or spoon to taste and to prepare your food. This may introduce harmful germs into your finished product.

Store safely.

Store food safely
Store opened food in foil, plastic wrap, leakproof plastic bags or airtight containers to keep food safe and ensure high quality. Label and date foods stored in your refrigerator and your freezer, using a first-in, first-out process.

When in doubt, throw it out
Leftovers in the refrigerator that are not used within three to four days should be discarded.

Pantry safety tip
For best quality and safety, shelf-stable pantry items should be stored in a clean, dry, cool area (below 85 degrees) away from the stove or the refrigerator’s exhaust. Check your pantry regularly for pests.

Choose canned goods with safety In mind
Purchase canned goods with the packaging intact; cans should not be bulging, leaking or dented on the seal or rim.

Safe handling tips for eggs

Use pasteurized eggs
When preparing recipes that include raw eggs that will not be cooked or will not be cooked to at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit, use pasteurized eggs. Always discourage tasting of batter or dough that contains raw eggs.

Egg safety

  • Buy eggs only from refrigerated cases and refrigerate them in their same carton as soon as possible after purchase.
  • Do not leave eggs in any form at room temperature for more than two hours, including preparation and serving time.
  • Use only clean, unbroken eggs. Discard dirty or broken eggs.
  • Wash hands, countertops and cooking utensils before and after handling any raw foods.

Safe handling tips for turkey

  • When thawing your turkey in the refrigerator, allow 24 hours for every five pounds the bird weighs.
  • Cook the turkey in an oven set no lower than 325 degrees F.
  • Check internal cooking temperatures to assure proper doneness. Stuffing inside the cavity should reach 165 degrees, and the bird is done when the innermost thigh reaches 180 degrees. Juice should run clear.

Quick tips for packing a safe school lunch

  • Make sure your hands, food preparation surfaces and utensils are clean. Use hot, soapy water to effectively get rid of bacteria. Teach your children to wash their hands before they eat. Also wash fruits and vegetables before packing them in your child’s lunch.
  • Be sure to keep hot foods, such as soup, chili or stew, hot by using an insulated bottle. Fill the bottle with boiling water and let it stand for a few minutes. Empty the bottle and then fill it with piping-hot food. Keep the bottle closed until lunchtime.
  • Cold foods should stay cold, so invest in a freezer gel pack (available at your Hannaford near the plastic storage containers) and an insulated lunch box. Freezer gel packs will keep foods cold until lunchtime but are not recommended for all-day storage. Any perishable food (e.g., meat, poultry, or egg sandwiches) you don’t eat at lunch should be discarded.
  • If your child chooses a brown paper bag to carry lunch, it’s especially important to include a cold source. A freezer gel pack or a frozen sandwich works well. Because brown paper bags tend to become soggy or leak as cold foods thaw, be sure to use an extra paper bag to create a double layer. Double bagging will also help insulate the food better.
  • Tell your children to use the refrigerator at school, if one is available. If not, make sure they keep their lunches out of direct sunlight and away from radiators, baseboards and other heat sources found in the classroom.
  • Every parent should have shelf-stable foods in the cupboard for easy packing. These include fresh fruits and vegetables, crackers, peanut butter sandwiches, packaged pudding and canned fruits or meats.
  • Freeze single-sized juice packs overnight and place the frozen drink in your child’s lunch. The juice will thaw by lunchtime, but it will still be cold. The frozen drink will also keep the rest of the lunch cold.
  • If you make sandwiches the night before, keep them in the refrigerator until packing up to go in the morning.
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