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Making Food Safety the Easy Choice

washing fresh fruit

Young children are at the highest risk of getting sick from foodborne illness, also called food poisoning.

Bacteria grow quickly if food is not handled properly. We can avoid getting sick from unsafe food by remembering these four words: clean, separate, chill, and cook.


CLEAN: Wash hands and surfaces often

  • Wash hands, utensils, and surfaces with hot soapy water before and after food preparation and especially after preparing meat, poultry, eggs, or seafood.
  • Wash hands after using the bathroom, handling pets, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables, but not meat, poultry, or eggs. Even if you plan to peel the fruits and veggies, it’s important to wash them first because bacteria can spread from the outside to the inside as you cut and peel them.

SEPARATE: Don’t cross-contaminate

  • Use separate cutting boards, plates, and utensils for produce and for uncooked meat, poultry, and seafood.
  • Wash hands, cutting boards, dishes, and utensils with hot soapy water after touching raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs.
  • Keep raw meat, poultry, or seafood on a plate in the refrigerator to keep juice from dripping on other foods.

CHILL: Refrigerate right away

  • Refrigerate or freeze dairy foods, eggs, seafood, poultry, and meat in 2 hours or less.
  • Thaw meat, poultry, and seafood in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.
  • Divide cooked leftovers into small, shallow containers in the refrigerator.

COOK: Cook foods to proper temperatures

  • Cook eggs until the yolks and whites are firm. Don’t use recipes with raw or undercooked eggs.
  • Don’t taste raw cookie dough—it has eggs in it that haven’t been cooked.
  • Use a food thermometer to make sure that meat is cooked to the right temperature.
  • During meal times, while food is being served and eaten, keep it hot (at 140° F or above).
  • Microwave (high-risk or animal) foods thoroughly to 165° F.