Consumer Articles

Food Preparation / Safety Guidelines

Date: May 19, 2009

Tips from the Industry Council on Food Safety

Food safety is the most important ingredient in today's kitchen. Most food-related illnesses can be prevented if you follow proper handling and preparation procedures. The following information is courtesy of the Industry Council on Food Safety, a coalition formed by the National Restaurant Association, committed to food safety education.

Recipe for Safe Food Preparation

  • Personal hygiene
  • Wash hands with hot soapy water before and after handling food.
  • Avoid handling food when ill, or if you have cuts or sores on your hands.
  • Avoid cross-contamination
  • Separate raw meat, poultry and seafood from other food in your grocery shopping cart.
  • Store raw meat, poultry and seafood on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator to prevent juices from dripping.
  • Wash cutting boards and knives before and after food preparation, and especially after preparing raw meat, poultry and seafood.
  • Never place cooked food on a plate which previously held raw meat, poultry or seafood.
  • Time and temperature rules
  • Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared food and leftovers within two hours.
  • Never defrost (or marinate) food on the kitchen counter; use the refrigerator, cold water or microwave method.
  • Cook food to the proper internal temperature; check for doneness with a thermometer.
Serving Leftovers & Carry-Out Food

Two-hour rule

  • Whether hot or cold, refrigerate or freeze prepared food within two hours.
Prepare to chill
  • Since bacteria grow at warm temperatures, hot food should be cooled as quickly as possible.

Before refrigerating or freezing

  • Slice large cuts of meat and poultry, such as roasts and turkey, and store in serving-size packets.
  • Store large quantities of thick food such as stew and chili in several small containers.
  • Place container of steaming hot food in a bowl of ice for 15 minutes.

Expiration date

  • Label wrapped leftovers with the current date; eat or freeze within three to four days. Check the refrigerator weekly; discard old food.