Food safety graphic

September is Food Safety Month and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wants the public to practice safe cooking procedures.

The CDC notes that each year, one in six Americans gets sick from eating contaminated food. By handling, cooking and storing food properly, food safety can be improved.

The four-step process, recommended by CDC, is clean, separate, cook and chill.

First, wash your hands and surfaces often while cooking. Germs that cause food poisoning can survive many places and spread around your kitchen.

The CDC also recommends you wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water before, during and after preparing food and before eating.

You should also wash your utensils, cutting boards and countertops with hot, soapy water. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be rinsed under running water.

The CDC recommends using separate cutting boards and plates for raw meat, poultry and seafood.

In addition, when grocery shopping, keep raw meat, poultry, seafood and their juices away from other foods. Also, keep raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs separate from all other foods in the refrigerator.

Third, cook foods at the right temperature. Food is safely cooked when the internal temperature gets high enough to kill germs that can make you sick.

Use a food thermometer to ensure foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature and use a chart with a detailed list of foods and temperatures.

Fourth, refrigerate food promptly. Keep your refrigerator below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and know when to throw food out; refrigerate perishable food within two hours. (If the outdoor temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, refrigerate within one hour.)

Also, thaw frozen food safely in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. Never thaw foods on the counter, because bacteria multiply quickly in the parts that reach room temperature.

You can learn more details about food safety at the CDC website, www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/keep-food-safe.html.

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