Food Safety Tips

Food Safety Tips and  Resources


The first rule of safe food preparation in the home is to keep everything clean.

  • Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling any food.
  • Wash food-contact surfaces (cutting boards, dishes, utensils, countertops) with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item and before going on to the next item.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly under cool running water and use a produce brush to remove surface dirt. Dry with paper towel or clean cloth towel.
  • Don’t rinse raw meat and poultry before cooking to avoid bacteria to spread to areas around the sink and countertop.


Don't give bacteria the opportunity to spread from one food to another (cross-contamination).

  • Use separate cutting boards, utensils, and plates for produce, meat, poultry, seafood and eggs.
  • Wash thoroughly all plates, utensils, and cutting boards that touched raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs before using them again. Use hot, soapy water.
  • Keep raw eggs, meat, poultry, seafood, and their juices away from foods that won't be cooked. Take this precaution while shopping in the store, when storing in the refrigerator at home, and while preparing meals.


Food is safely cooked when it reaches a high enough internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria.

  • Use a food thermometer to make sure meat, poultry, and fish are cooked to a safe internal temperature.
  • Keep food hot after cooking (140°F or above).
  • Microwave food thoroughly (165°F or above).
  • Cook meat, poultry, seafood, and other cooked foods to safe minimum cooking temperatures (see chart below).
Safe minimum cooking temperatures



Refrigerate foods quickly because harmful bacteria grow rapidly at room temperature.

  • Keep your refrigerator at or below 40ºF and the freezer at 0ºF. Check both periodically with an appliance thermometer. Don’t rely on the built-in thermometer if your refrigerator or freezer has one.
  • Never leave perishable foods out of refrigeration for more than 2 hours. If the food is exposed to temperatures above 90°F (like a hot car or summer picnic), refrigerate it within 1 hour.
  • Never defrost food at room temperature. Food can be defrosted safely in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave. Food thawed in cold water or in the microwave should be cooked immediately.
  • Throw out food to avoid harmful bacteria growth based off of safe cold food storage times (see chart below).
Safe cold food storage timesSafe cold food storage timesSafe cold food storage times