American Cleaning Institute - For Better Living

Clean Ideas: Eating Healthy Means Eating Safely

Ten strategies to keep foodborne illnesses away

boy washing dishesWhen it comes to healthy eating, it's not enough to pack your diet with options like whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, low-sodium alternatives and heart-healthy selections. Making smart food choices is just one-half of the equation. The other half is using safe procedures for food preparation, serving and storage. Food that is mishandled can lead to foodborne illnesses. And because bacteria are everywhere, cleanliness is a major factor in preventing foodborne illness.

Hands First: Clean hands are the first line of defense in safe food preparation. To do the job properly, wet hands with warm, running water. Then apply soap. Rub hands together vigorously to make lather and scrub all surfaces. Continue for 20 seconds or about as long as it takes to sing one verse of "Old MacDonald Had a Farm." Rinse well under warm, running water. Dry hands thoroughly.

Clean Surfaces: Make sure food-preparation surfaces and utensils are clean. Use soap and hot water to effectively get rid of bacteria. Wash well and often.

Wash: Fruits and vegetables should be washed thoroughly and paper-toweled dry before eating. Use running water. If standing water is used, the microorganisms that have been rinsed off one item can be transferred to another.

Disinfect/Sanitize: After your cutting board is used for uncooked meat, fish or poultry, scrub it clean and then sanitize it with a solution of one tablespoon of liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Flood the surface with the bleach solution and allow it to stand for several minutes. Rinse with clear water and air-dry or pat dry with clean paper towels.

Separate: Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs away from other foods in the shopping cart, grocery bags, refrigerator and on preparation surfaces.

Cook: Use a food thermometer to make sure all foods are cooked or reheated to the proper temperature. For quick and more accurate results, use an instant-read digital thermometer, not a large-dial food thermometer.

Chill: Refrigerate or freeze meat, poultry, eggs, seafood and other perishables within two hours of cooking or purchasing.

Reheat Safely: Use a thermometer to make sure leftovers are reheated to 165°F.

Launder: Dishcloths should be cleaned often. Use the hot water cycle of your washing machine. Or, consider using paper towels to clean up kitchen surfaces. Then, throw the germs away with the towels!

No Pets Allowed: Keep pets off kitchen counters and away from food.

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