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Health Information Food Safety: Avoiding Foodborne Illness

The Four Basics of Food Safety

To keep your family and guests safe from foodborne illness, all you have to do is to follow these four basic guidelines:

Clean – hands and surfaces frequently.

  • Wash your hands with soapy and water; hot water whenever available.
  • Make sure you use clean dishes, cooking utensils and flatware (spoons, knives and forks).
  • Keep surfaces clean (clean up spills right away; use soapy water for spills from raw meat, poultry, fish or other seafood).

Separate – to avoid cross-contamination.

  • Separate raw meat, fish and poultry from other food, especially food that will not be cooked.
  • Use separate cutting boards for meats, fish or poultry. (Have another cutting board for vegetables, fruits and breads.)
  • Use a separate platter to transfer cooked meat or seafood from the grill. (Don’t reuse the platter or utensil used to transfer the raw meat, fish or poultry onto the grill.)

Chill – below 40 degrees

  • When barbecuing at home, refrigerate or freeze perishable foods within 2 hours.
  • When outdoors, put perishable foods in cooler within 1 hour of eating, especially in hot weather.
  • Don't leave cooked food sitting out for more than 30 minutes.
  • Keep uncooked foods and meats and fish refrigerated until ready to cook.
  • Anything with mayonnaise-type dressing should be kept in a cooler until ready to serve.
  • At a picnic or barbecue, set a mealtime and return food immediately to the cooler after everyone has been served.
  • Keep perishable foods separate from the drink cooler. (The cooler with drinks will be opened frequently, which makes it difficult to keep a constant low temperature.)

Cook – food to a safe internal temperature

  • Check internal temperature of meats with a clean food thermometer.
  • A good rule of thumb is an internal temperature above 165 degrees for most meats (above 170 degrees for poultry).
  • Cook meat completely on site; do not partially cook meat before arriving.
  • If you bring take-out food, eat it as soon as possible after picking it up from the restaurant.
  • Don’t use recipes that call for the use of uncooked egg.

Remember the highs and lows

One last thing, don’t forget the temperatures that are such an important part of food safety:

The lows

  • Below 40 degrees for chilled items – Eat as soon as possible, don’t leave food out, especially on hot summer days.

The highs

  • Above 165/170 for cooked meats – Eat as soon as possible after cooking.

Keeping your family and guests safe just takes a little planning and remembering the four basics of food safety: clean, separate, chill and cook.


More Information at Your Fingertips:

  • For more information about nutritional services at Rush visit ourFood and Nutritional Services home page.
  • Looking for a dietitian? Call (312) 942-DIET (3438)
  • Looking for a doctor? Call toll free: 888 352-RUSH (7874)

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Discover Rush, 2007 - Spring
Food Safety: Avoiding Foodborne Illness
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