food prepping

Raw meat, poultry and seafood carry risks of foodborne illness if not prepared safely. But did you know you could also get sick from spoiled produce?

Food safety is important to keeping you and your family healthy. Most foodborne illnesses can be prevented with some simple food handling behaviors for selecting, washing, preparing and storing produce and other foods.




Not sure which produce goes in the fridge or on the counter? Download our Kitchen Cheat Sheets! Keep them in a kitchen drawer or hang them on your fridge!



Pick the safest, freshest food at the grocery store or farmers market with these tips:

  • Do not purchase bruised or damaged produce.
  • Only purchase pre-cut produce items that are refrigerated or surrounded by ice.
  • Ripe peppers and most leafy veggies should be as firm as possible, and evenly colored.
  • Bag fresh produce separately from meat, poultry and seafood products during checkout.
  • When purchasing eggs, make sure they are clean and free of cracks.
  • Always check expiration dates.


Prevent the spread of foodborne illness in your kitchen by doing the following:

  • Before handling food, wash hands with hot, soapy water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Wash hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers or touching pets.
  • Wash hands, utensils and cutting boards before and after contact with raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs. Use hot, soapy water.
  • Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water.
  • With canned goods, clean lids before opening.
  • Use paper towels to clean up kitchen surfaces. If you use cloth towels, wash them often in the hot cycle of the washing machine.


Avoid cross-contamination with these safe food preparation tips:

  • Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods like fruits and vegetables. Use separate cutting boards too.
  • Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry or seafood.
  • Use a food thermometer to ensure your food is cooked to a safe internal temperature.
    • Cook roasts and steaks to at least 145°F.
      HINT: If you like your steak rare or medium rare, it will be red or pinkish red inside. Well-done steaks will be brown throughout.
    • Cook poultry to at least 165°F.
      HINT: Cut into the chicken. If it’s white inside (and not pink), it’s done.
    • Cook ground meats to at least 160°F.
      HINT: Cut into the meat. If it’s brown inside (and not red), it’s done.
  • Cook eggs until the yolk and whites are firm. Avoid using recipes in which eggs remain raw or are partly cooked.
  • Cooked fish should flake easily with a fork.
  • Bring sauces, soups and gravies to a boil when you reheat them.
  • Follow microwave instructions for foods to ensure proper cooking.
    • Cover the food and stir it for even cooking.
    • Turn the dish once or twice while cooking.
    • Make sure the food has no cold spots — stir and turn food over to makes sure its cooking all the way through.


Prevent the spread of bacteria with these food storage safety tips:

  • Keep your refrigerator set to 40°F or below, and your freezer at 0°.
  • Store fruits and vegetables in a clean refrigerator.
  • Refrigerate all produce that is purchased, pre-cut or peeled to maintain both quality and safety.
  • Marinate foods in the refrigerator instead of on the counter.
  • Promptly refrigerate or freeze leftovers. Consume them within 3-4 days or throw them out.
  • Divide large amounts of leftovers into small, shallow dishes with covers so they can cool quickly in the refrigerator.
  • Don’t over-pack your refrigerator. The cool air must flow freely to keep food safe.
  • Freeze or cook raw ground meat, poultry or fish within 1-2 days.
  • Freeze or cook fresh meat like steaks or roasts within 3-5 days.
  • When thawing food:
    • Place it in the refrigerator.
    • Place it under cold, running water.
    • Defrost in the microwave according to the directions for the food.
    • NEVER thaw it out by simply taking it out of the fridge.