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USDA Study Is a Stark Reminder to Wash Your Hands in the Kitchen

USDA Study Is a Stark Reminder to Wash Your Hands in the Kitchen

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Study finds recipes with hand-washing, temperature reminders improve food safety

IMAGE: Kansas State University's Sensory Analysis Center researchers, from left: Delores Chambers, center co-director and professor of food, nutrition, dietetics and health Edgar Chambers IV, center co-director and university distinguished professor. view more

Credit: Kansas State University

MANHATTAN, KANSAS -- Kansas State University researchers have discovered the secret ingredient to improving kitchen food safety: include hand-washing reminders and meat thermometer instructions in published recipes.

Edgar Chambers IV, co-director of the university's Sensory Analysis Center, and collaborative food scientists have found that only 25 percent of people use a meat thermometer when they are cooking at home. But when a recipe includes a reminder, 85 percent of people will use a thermometer. The researchers saw similar results for hand-washing: Only 40 to 50 percent of people wash their hands when cooking, but 70 to 80 percent of people will wash their hands when a recipe reminds them.

"This is such an easy thing to do: Just add the information to the recipe and people follow it," said Edgar Chambers, who is also a university distinguished professor of food, nutrition, dietetics and health. "It's a simple way to reduce foodborne illness and we can actually reduce health care costs by simply adding information to recipes. It's a great finding and a great piece of information for the promotion of food safety information."

Chambers and his research team - including researchers at Tennessee State University and RTI International in North Carolina -- have published the research in the Journal of Food Protection. They presented the results to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which intends to start including these food safety instructions in recipes that it develops, Chambers said.

The four-year collaborative project is supported by a $2.5 million USDA grant. The researchers have spent three years studying consumer shopping and cooking behaviors. Now the researchers are spending the fourth and final year working with the Partnership for Food Safety Education in Washington, D.C., to develop a nationwide food safety campaign. The researchers want to educate consumers, manufacturers, grocers, journalists, magazines and publishers on the importance of including food safety instructions in published recipes.

"We want to provide research-based information for consumers," Chambers said. "The goal is to promote safe behaviors so that people actually begin to do them every day in the kitchen and as part of their shopping behavior."

The project focused on several areas of food safety with poultry and eggs, including using meat thermometers, washing hands frequently and storing meat in plastic bags provided by the grocery stores.

The researchers observed 75 people cook two dishes -- a Parmesan chicken breast and a turkey patty with mushroom sauce -- following recipes that did not have food safety instructions. Another group of 75 participants cooked the same dishes following recipes that did include food safety instructions. The dishes required the participants to handle raw meat, eggs and fresh produce while scientists observed how often the participants washed their hands or used a meat thermometer.

By comparing the two groups, the researchers found that 60 percent more people used a meat thermometer and 20 to 30 percent more people washed their hands when the recipes included reminders about the two food safety practices.

"This is such a wonderful outcome," Chambers said. "It's such an easy thing to do and such an easy way to help people remember to be safe. It doesn't cost anything -- just a little extra paper and a little extra time to wash your hands and use that thermometer."

The researchers also are studying kitchen lighting, which also can affect food safety. Many people are switching to LED lights and energy-efficient lights for kitchens, which is great news for consumers, but bad news for food safety, Chambers said. The energy-efficient lights make meat and poultry appear as if they are more done than they actually are.

"We have shown through research that changing to more modern lighting in kitchens makes people believe their meat patties are done sooner than they would be under old lighting, which is wrong," Chambers said. "That is not good news for consumers unless they are using a meat thermometer."

The researchers recently published the lighting-related research in the Journal of Sensory Studies.

The Sensory Analysis Center is an internationally recognized research institute that conducts consulting, education and consumer sensory research on a variety of products and topics.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.


Kansas State University

MANHATTAN — Kansas State University researchers have discovered the secret ingredient to improving kitchen food safety: include hand-washing reminders and meat thermometer instructions in published recipes.

Edgar Chambers IV, co-director of the university's Sensory Analysis Center, and collaborative food scientists have found that only 25 percent of people use a meat thermometer when they are cooking at home. But when a recipe includes a reminder, 85 percent of people will use a thermometer. The researchers saw similar results for hand-washing: Only 40 to 50 percent of people wash their hands when cooking, but 70 to 80 percent of people will wash their hands when a recipe reminds them.

"This is such an easy thing to do: Just add the information to the recipe and people follow it," said Edgar Chambers, who is also a university distinguished professor of food, nutrition, dietetics and health. "It's a simple way to reduce foodborne illness and we can actually reduce health care costs by simply adding information to recipes. It's a great finding and a great piece of information for the promotion of food safety information."

Chambers and his research team – including researchers at Tennessee State University and RTI International in North Carolina — have published the research in the Journal of Food Protection. They presented the results to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which intends to start including these food safety instructions in recipes that it develops, Chambers said.

The four-year collaborative project is supported by a $2.5 million USDA grant. The researchers have spent three years studying consumer shopping and cooking behaviors. Now the researchers are spending the fourth and final year working with the Partnership for Food Safety Education in Washington, D.C., to develop a nationwide food safety campaign. The researchers want to educate consumers, manufacturers, grocers, journalists, magazines and publishers on the importance of including food safety instructions in published recipes.

"We want to provide research-based information for consumers," Chambers said. "The goal is to promote safe behaviors so that people actually begin to do them every day in the kitchen and as part of their shopping behavior."

The project focused on several areas of food safety with poultry and eggs, including using meat thermometers, washing hands frequently and storing meat in plastic bags provided by the grocery stores.

The researchers observed 75 people cook two dishes — a Parmesan chicken breast and a turkey patty with mushroom sauce — following recipes that did not have food safety instructions. Another group of 75 participants cooked the same dishes following recipes that did include food safety instructions. The dishes required the participants to handle raw meat, eggs and fresh produce while scientists observed how often the participants washed their hands or used a meat thermometer.

By comparing the two groups, the researchers found that 60 percent more people used a meat thermometer and 20 to 30 percent more people washed their hands when the recipes included reminders about the two food safety practices.

"This is such a wonderful outcome," Chambers said. "It's such an easy thing to do and such an easy way to help people remember to be safe. It doesn't cost anything — just a little extra paper and a little extra time to wash your hands and use that thermometer."

The researchers also are studying kitchen lighting, which also can affect food safety. Many people are switching to LED lights and energy-efficient lights for kitchens, which is great news for consumers, but bad news for food safety, Chambers said. The energy-efficient lights make meat and poultry appear as if they are more done than they actually are.

"We have shown through research that changing to more modern lighting in kitchens makes people believe their meat patties are done sooner than they would be under old lighting, which is wrong," Chambers said. "That is not good news for consumers unless they are using a meat thermometer."

The researchers recently published the lighting-related research in the Journal of Sensory Studies.

The Sensory Analysis Center is an internationally recognized research institute that conducts consulting, education and consumer sensory research on a variety of products and topics.


A safer supper: Study finds recipes with hand-washing, temperature reminders improve food safety

Kansas State University's Sensory Analysis Center researchers, from left: Delores Chambers, center co-director and professor of food, nutrition, dietetics and health Edgar Chambers IV, center co-director and university distinguished professor of food, nutrition, dietetics and health and Kadri Koppel, assistant professor of food, nutrition, dietetics and health. Center researchers have found that including hand-washing reminders and meat thermometer instructions in published recipes helps to improve food safety. Credit: Kansas State University

Kansas State University researchers have discovered the secret ingredient to improving kitchen food safety: include hand-washing reminders and meat thermometer instructions in published recipes.

Edgar Chambers IV, co-director of the university's Sensory Analysis Center, and collaborative food scientists have found that only 25 percent of people use a meat thermometer when they are cooking at home. But when a recipe includes a reminder, 85 percent of people will use a thermometer. The researchers saw similar results for hand-washing: Only 40 to 50 percent of people wash their hands when cooking, but 70 to 80 percent of people will wash their hands when a recipe reminds them.

"This is such an easy thing to do: Just add the information to the recipe and people follow it," said Edgar Chambers, who is also a university distinguished professor of food, nutrition, dietetics and health. "It's a simple way to reduce foodborne illness and we can actually reduce health care costs by simply adding information to recipes. It's a great finding and a great piece of information for the promotion of food safety information."

Chambers and his research team - including researchers at Tennessee State University and RTI International in North Carolina—have published the research in the Journal of Food Protection. They presented the results to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which intends to start including these food safety instructions in recipes that it develops, Chambers said.

The four-year collaborative project is supported by a $2.5 million USDA grant. The researchers have spent three years studying consumer shopping and cooking behaviors. Now the researchers are spending the fourth and final year working with the Partnership for Food Safety Education in Washington, D.C., to develop a nationwide food safety campaign. The researchers want to educate consumers, manufacturers, grocers, journalists, magazines and publishers on the importance of including food safety instructions in published recipes.

"We want to provide research-based information for consumers," Chambers said. "The goal is to promote safe behaviors so that people actually begin to do them every day in the kitchen and as part of their shopping behavior."

The project focused on several areas of food safety with poultry and eggs, including using meat thermometers, washing hands frequently and storing meat in plastic bags provided by the grocery stores.

The researchers observed 75 people cook two dishes—a Parmesan chicken breast and a turkey patty with mushroom sauce—following recipes that did not have food safety instructions. Another group of 75 participants cooked the same dishes following recipes that did include food safety instructions. The dishes required the participants to handle raw meat, eggs and fresh produce while scientists observed how often the participants washed their hands or used a meat thermometer.

By comparing the two groups, the researchers found that 60 percent more people used a meat thermometer and 20 to 30 percent more people washed their hands when the recipes included reminders about the two food safety practices.

"This is such a wonderful outcome," Chambers said. "It's such an easy thing to do and such an easy way to help people remember to be safe. It doesn't cost anything—just a little extra paper and a little extra time to wash your hands and use that thermometer."

The researchers also are studying kitchen lighting, which also can affect food safety. Many people are switching to LED lights and energy-efficient lights for kitchens, which is great news for consumers, but bad news for food safety, Chambers said. The energy-efficient lights make meat and poultry appear as if they are more done than they actually are.

"We have shown through research that changing to more modern lighting in kitchens makes people believe their meat patties are done sooner than they would be under old lighting, which is wrong," Chambers said. "That is not good news for consumers unless they are using a meat thermometer."

The researchers recently published the lighting-related research in the Journal of Sensory Studies.


Life is Better with Clean Hands

CDC launched Life is Better with Clean Hands, a new national campaign designed to motivate adults to make clean hands part of their daily lives. The campaign resources below are designed to help raise awareness about the importance of handwashing at key times in both homes and public settings, such as before cooking or after using the bathroom. Download and share them to help spread the word and encourage handwashing within your community.

Print Materials

These print-ready materials can be downloaded, printed, and distributed to help raise awareness about handwashing in public areas, such as public restrooms, kitchen and workplaces. To order FREE printed copies of selected publications, you can visit CDC-INFO On Demand.

State, tribal, local, and territorial partners can access co-brandable versions of campaign posters in the Communication Resource Center of CDC&rsquos State Tribal, Local, and Territorial (STLT) Collaboration Space. In the Communication Resource Center, click on &ldquoCDC Communications,&rdquo then click on &ldquoCustomizable Communication Products.&rdquo Co-brandable Life is Better with Clean Hands posters are in the &ldquoEmerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases&rdquo folder.

Posters

Fact Sheets

Social Media Posts and Graphics

Use these graphics and suggested posts to spread the word about handwashing on social media. Each graphic is available in formatting specific to Facebook (1200×675), Twitter (1200×675), and Instagram (1080×1080).

Sample Posts

Use the hashtag #KeepHandsClean and follow CDC&rsquos social media accounts to like, share, or comment on content related to the Life is Better with Clean Hands campaign. You can also share CDC&rsquos sample messages below on your social media platforms to promote the importance of handwashing.

  • Germs are everywhere. Make handwashing with soap and water a healthy habit to protect yourself and your family from getting sick. https://go.usa.gov/xV9TX external icon #KeepHandsClean
  • Everything you touch has germs that stay on your hands. Make clean hands a healthy habit everywhere you go so you don&rsquot get sick. https://go.usa.gov/xV9TX external icon #KeepHandsClean
  • Your hands carry germs you can&rsquot see. Take the time to wash your hands for 20 seconds during key times to stay healthy. https://go.usa.gov/xV9Dc external icon #KeepHandsClean
  • Handwashing can help prevent 1 in 5 respiratory illnesses and 1 in 3 diarrheal illnesses. Learn more about the benefits of handwashing. https://go.usa.gov/xV9DR external icon #KeepHandsClean
  • Stay healthy by making handwashing a regular part of your cooking routine. Wash hands to prevent spreading germs to your food and your family. https://go.usa.gov/xVNmA external icon #KeepHandsClean
  • Don&rsquot let germs ruin your food plans. Make handwashing a healthy habit while preparing food for yourself and loved ones. https://go.usa.gov/xVNmA external icon #KeepHandsClean
  • Everything you touch has germs that stay on your hands. Wash your hands while preparing food so you don&rsquot get sick. https://go.usa.gov/xVNmA external icon #KeepHandsClean
  • Wash your hands often when you cook to prevent the spread of germs. Be sure to wash before preparing any food. https://go.usa.gov/xVNmA external icon #KeepHandsClean
  • Handwashing can become a lifelong healthy habit if you start teaching it at an early age. Give kids frequent reminders of how and when to wash hands. https://go.usa.gov/xV9Td external icon #KeepHandsClean
  • Help your kids develop handwashing skills and make handwashing a part of your family&rsquos daily life. https://go.usa.gov/xV9Td external icon #KeepHandsClean
  • Set an example for your children. Make handwashing part of your routine and teach kids the five easy steps for handwashing from an early age. https://go.usa.gov/xV9TP external icon #KeepHandsClean
  • When your family is healthy, you don&rsquot have to worry about missing out on work, school, and other activities. Make sure you teach kids the key times to wash. https://go.usa.gov/xV9TP external icon #KeepHandsClean
  • Handwashing is important for everyone! Learn about CDC&rsquos new handwashing campaign and download free materials to remind people in your life about the importance of handwashing. https://go.usa.gov/xVNmz external icon #KeepHandsClean
  • Need to remind yourself or others about the importance of washing hands? Order FREE CDC posters to place in bathrooms or kitchen areas as a reminder. https://go.usa.gov/xVNmz external icon #KeepHandsClean
  • CDC has launched a new national handwashing campaign! Learn how to make a handwashing a healthy habit in your family and keep everyone healthy. https://go.usa.gov/xVNmz external icon #KeepHandsClean

Web Banners

Add the banners below to your website and help promote the Life is Better with Clean Hands campaign and direct your audience to more handwashing resources. Place the graphic in the way that works best for your website.

Stickers, Window and Mirror Clings

Print window and mirror clings on white, thin plastic/vinyl film. Adhere clings to any clean dry glass surface, like windows and mirrors. The printable sticker sheet is compatible with full-sheet sticker paper (3&rdquox5&rdquo label sheet) or standard pre-cut labels.

Radio Public Service Announcements

These public service announcements were developed by CDC for organizations and individuals to share with local media.

Running time: 15 seconds and 30 seconds
Release Date: 9/23/2019

Summary: This public service announcement encourages people to make handwashing a habit everywhere they go.

Running time: 15 seconds and 30 seconds
Release Date: 9/23/2019

Summary: This public service announcement encourages parents to wash their hands and teach kids to do the same.

Sample Newsletter Announcements

Promote CDC&rsquos campaign Life is Better with Clean Hands and the importance of handwashing by including the announcement below in a newsletter, publication, email, or webpage. Use these sample newsletter blurbs as is or customize them for your networks.

CDC has launched Life is Better with Clean Hands, a national campaign encouraging adults to make clean hands a healthy habit at home and away.

Washing your hands is easy, and it&rsquos one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Studies have shown that handwashing can prevent 1 in 3 diarrhea-related sicknesses and 1 in 5 respiratory infections, such as a cold or the flu.

Follow these five steps every time.

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the &ldquoHappy Birthday&rdquo song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

If soap and water aren&rsquot available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

For more information on Life is Better with Clean Hands, a campaign promotion toolkit, free posters, and other resources for promoting handwashing, visit www.cdc.gov/handwashing.

CDC has launched Life is Better with Clean Hands, a national campaign encouraging parents to make clean hands a healthy habit for the whole family.

Handwashing is an easy, inexpensive, and effective way to help your family stay healthy. Studies have shown that handwashing can prevent 1 in 3 diarrhea-related sicknesses and 1 in 5 respiratory infections, such as a cold or the flu. When your family is healthy, you don&rsquot have to worry about missing school, work, or other activities.

Help your children make handwashing a healthy habit at home, school, and play by:

  • Teaching kids the five easy steps for handwashing&mdashwet, lather, scrub, rinse and dry&mdashand the key times to wash hands, such as after using the bathroom or before eating.
  • Giving frequent reminders so that handwashing becomes a habit and a regular part of your child&rsquos day.
  • Leading by example by washing your hands.

For more information on Life is Better with Clean Hands, a campaign promotion toolkit, free posters, and other resources for promoting handwashing, visit www.cdc.gov/handwashing.

CDC has launched Life is Better with Clean Hands, a national campaign encouraging adults to make clean hands a healthy habit at home and on the go.

Handwashing is one of the most important things you can do to prevent food poisoning. Follow these handwashing tips to make sure you have clean hands when preparing food:

  • Wash hands before, during, and after preparing food and before eating. Wash your hands often, especially during key times when germs can spread. Be sure to wash before preparing any food and after touching raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.
  • Wash your hands the right way. Wet your hands with water before applying soap. Scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails for at least 20 seconds before, during, and after handling any food.
  • Wash your hands often when you cook to prevent the spread of germs. Your hands can spread germs in the kitchen, so always wash your hands to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Wash hands before and after using gloves. Gloves can get contaminated with germs from your hands. Be sure to wash your hands before and after using gloves to prevent the spread of germs.

For more information on Life is Better with Clean Hands, a campaign promotion toolkit, free posters, and other resources for promoting handwashing, visit www.cdc.gov/handwashing.

CDC has launched Life is Better with Clean Hands, a national campaign encouraging adults to make clean hands a healthy habit at home and away.

Handwashing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading illness to others. Germs can spread easily in offices where employees share the same space, supplies, and equipment. CDC recommends washing hands often, especially during key times when you are likely to get and spread germs. In workplaces, these key times are before eating lunch or preparing food, after using the bathroom, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol.

For more information on Life is Better with Clean Hands, a campaign promotion toolkit, free posters, and other resources for promoting handwashing, visit www.cdc.gov/handwashing.

Promote Handwashing Throughout the Year

These monthly observances provide opportunities for you to promote handwashing content on your social media, websites, newsletters, or any other communication channels throughout the year.

January-March

November-December

Download a campaign toolkit pdf icon [PDF, print only, 12 MB] to encourage handwashing within your community throughout the year.


Most people don't wash their hands correctly, USDA study finds

Ahead of Fourth of July grilling, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering a reminder to wash our hands.

A study conducted by USDA found consumers fail to correctly wash their hands 97 percent of the time, with the most common mistake being not washing hands long enough.

The observational study, conducted in partnership with nonprofit firm RTI International and North Carolina State University, involved placing 383 participants in test kitchens based in North Carolina and monitoring them through cameras as they cooked dishes including turkey burgers and a chef's salad.

The study revealed only 3 percent of participants followed all the necessary steps to properly wash their hands.

"You can’t see, smell or feel bacteria," said Carmen Rottenberg, acting deputy under secretary for food safety at the USDA. "By simply washing your hands properly, you can protect your family and prevent that bacteria from contaminating your food and key areas in your kitchen."

The most common mistake? Not washing with soap and water for the minimum 20 seconds. Other bad behaviors included not getting hands wet or failing to use soap.

The study also found participants struggled at keeping items in the kitchen free from contamination. For example, 48 percent of the time, participants contaminated spice containers used while preparing burgers.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 48 million Americans get sick from foodborne illnesses each year, including about 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.


Could High Pressure Be the Next Frontier of Food Safety?

You probably know that many dairy products are made safe for consumption with pasteurization, a process that uses heat for a prolonged period of time to kill off harmful bacteria. And while the food industry still uses pasteurization (along with other methods) to keep our food safe, Americans are experiencing more food recalls than ever before. So, what gives?

Food manufacturers have had to get innovative and find new processes to keep consumers safe. One such safety procedure is called high-pressure processing, in which food is highly pressurized in order to eliminate foodborne bacteria. This method is particularly promising for perishable products designed to offer your microbiome a probiotic boost.

Dr. Errol Raghubeer is a food scientist who has directly pioneered the growth of HPP in the food industry as part of his role at Avure Technologies. He says that high-pressure processing, otherwise known as HPP, could help make fresh products safe for consumption while also retaining many of their natural benefits.

"Unlike heat pasteurization, HPP offers all the benefits that comes with killing bacteria using heat, without having to use chemicals to supplement other methods being used," Raghubeer says.

Raghubeer explains that HPP has the most potential for fresher, nutritious products, as these often lose nutrients if they’re exposed to high heats or chemical preservatives. Depending on how much pressure is used (and for how long), potentially harmful bacteria is killed without affecting food's nutritional content.

"When you expose foods to HPP, microorganisms are destroyed, but foods itself are not effect, covalent bonds are not damaged, and [HPP] leaves nutritional content intact. It helps establish a longer shelf life without actually altering nutritionals," he says. "You'll need a refrigerator for foods that go through the HPP process because we don't sterilize the item in this method: we simply target harmful food pathogens."

More on keeping your pantry safe:

What kind of grocery staples might be produced in this way? Anything naturally containing moisture, Raghubeer says—including things like juices, vegetables, fruit, and even poultry and other meat products. The first batch of items bearing a new HPP seal include salad dressings, dips, guacamole, hummus, and other ready-to-eat products.

"Using pressure to make foods safe isn't limited by categories, like dairy—it's limited by moisture content. Nuts, for example, do not have enough moisture to be highly pressurized," Raghubeer says.

Given the recent uptick in interest around gut health-boosting foods, Raghubeer says scientists and processors familiar with HPP have found a way to get rid of foodborne bacteria that could lead to widespread outbreaks—without actually killing good bacteria.

"It really depends on the food and its pH balance. But if you cut the time the food is exposed to pressure down, you'll get the food safety aspect that comes from pasteurization while preserving true probiotics," he says. "In the early days, we overprocessed, wanting to kill every possible organism inside the product—but HPP is different."

You may already see some items in your grocery market that are touting their use of HPP technologies. We had a chance to try Good Foods guacamole, which is currently available at Target, Sprouts, Publix, and Hy-Vee stores, and found it stacked up to most other store-bought varieties we had previously tasted. Other highly pressurized foods include Applegate Farms' oven-roasted turkey breast and Suja's line of organic pressed juices.


Food Safety in the Kitchen

Use these tools and tips to help prevent food poisoning every time you prepare food in the kitchen.

Your kitchen is filled with food safety tools that, when used properly, can help keep you and your loved ones healthy. Learn how to make the most of these tools so that your kitchen is your home&rsquos food safety headquarters.

Kitchen sink

  • Handwashing is one of the most important things you can do to prevent food poisoning. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and running water. Scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before peeling. Germs can spread from the outside to the inside of fresh produce as you cut or peel.
  • Do not wash raw meat, poultry, or eggs. Washing these foods can actually spread germs because juices may splash onto your sink or counters.

Cutting board and utensils

  • Use separate cutting boards, plates, and knives for produce and for raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.
  • Clean with hot, soapy water or in dishwasher (if dishwasher-safe) after each use.

Thermometer

Use a food thermometer to make sure food cooked in the oven or on the stove top or grill reaches a temperature hot enough to kill germs.


Ten Steps to a Safe Kitchen

Step One: Keep your refrigerator at 40° F (4° C) or less. A temperature of 40°F or less is important because it slows the growth of most bacteria. The fewer bacteria there are, the less likely you are to get sick from them.

Step Two: Refrigerate cooked, perishable food as soon as possible within two hours after cooking.

A temperature of 40°F (4°C) or less is important because it slows the growth of most bacteria. The fewer bacteria there are, the less likely you are to get sick from them. Date leftovers so they can be used within two to three days. If in doubt, throw it out!

Step Three: Sanitize your kitchen dishcloths and sponges regularly. Wash with a solution of one teaspoon chlorine bleach to one quart water, or use a commercial sanitizing agent, following product directions. Many cooks use dishcloths or sponges to mop up areas where they have worked with uncooked meat and then reuse the cloth or sponge in other kitchen areas after minimal rinsing.A contaminated dishcloth can house millions of bacteria after a few hours. Consider using paper towels to clean up and then throw them away immediately. Wash hands carefully after handling raw meat.

Step Four: Wash your cutting board with soap and hot water after each use. Washboard Never allow raw meat, poultry, and fish to come in contact with other foods. Washing with only a damp cloth will not remove bacteria. Periodically washing in a bleach solution is the best way to prevent bacteria from remaining on your cutting board.

Step Five: Cook ground beef, red meats and poultry products to a safe internal temperature. Use a meat thermometer. Hamburger Cooking food, including ground meat patties, to an internal temperature of at least 160°F (72°C) usually protects against foodborne illness. Ground beef can be contaminated with potentially dangerous E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria. The US Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) advised consumers to use a meat thermometer when cooking hamburger and not rely on the internal color of the meat to be sure it is safe to eat. This change resulted from research that indicates some ground meat may turn prematurely brown before a safe internal temperature of 160°F (72°C) is reached.

Step Six: Don't eat raw or lightly cooked eggs. Many older cookbooks have recipes for ice cream, mayonnaise, eggnog and some desserts that call for raw eggs. These recipes are no longer recommended because of the risk of Salmonella. The commercial versions of these products are made with pasteurized eggs (eggs that have been sufficiently heated to kill bacteria) and are not a food hazard. Remember--this means no sampling of cake batters and cookie dough before they are baked!

Step Seven: Clean kitchen counters and other surfaces that come in contact with food with hot water and detergent or a solution of bleach and water. Counter Bleach and commercial cleaning agents are best for getting rid of pathogens. Hot water and detergent do a good job, too, but may not kill all strains of bacteria. Keep sponges and dishcloths clean because, when wet, these materials harbor bacteria and may encourage their growth.

Step Eight: Allow dishes and utensils to air-dry in order to eliminate re-contamination from hands or towels. Air Dry When washing dishes by hand, it's best to wash them all within two hours--before bacteria can begin to form.

Step Nine: Wash hands with soap and warm water immediately after handling raw meat, poultry, or fish. Hand Washing Wash for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food, especially raw meat. If you have an infection or cut on your hands, wear rubber or plastic gloves.

Step Ten: Defrost meat, poultry and fish products in the refrigerator, microwave oven, or cold water that is changed every 30 minutes. Thaw Follow package directions for thawing foods in the microwave. Cook microwave-defrosted food immediately after thawing. Changing water every 30 minutes when thawing foods in cold water ensures that the food is kept cold, an important factor for slowing bacterial growth on the outside while inner areas are still thawing.


Food Saving Tips During COVID-19

Food waste accounts for the largest stream of material in trash in our country, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Additionally, if food waste were a country, it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

Here are six tips to help you save food and reduce your trips to the grocery store during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  1. Saving and eating leftovers: Leftovers can typically be kept in the refrigerator for three to four days. If you do not plan to consume them during that time, store in the freezer. You can also check out new recipes to transform your leftover food and meals into something new. Click here for ways to give new life to some common leftover ingredients.
  1. The freezer is your friend: Put fruits and vegetables on the brink of going bad in the freezer to be used later for other items, such as soups and smoothies. The USDA says, “Freezing preserves food for extended periods because it prevents the growth of microorganisms that cause both food spoilage and foodborne illness.” Bread, meat, and leftovers are also great options to store in the freezer.
  1. Go shopping in your own home: Before going to the grocery store or ordering your next delivery, take an inventory of what you already have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. You might have ingredients already on hand that can be transformed into a delicious and creative meal. Here are 10 recipes for quick and easy pantry meals.
  1. Donate: If you are shopping your pantry and find items that you no longer want, consider donating. New, unopened non-perishables can be donated to local food banks or neighbors in need. Be sure to check locally.
  1. Preserve your food: By safely preserving food – from pickling and canning to drying and fermenting – you can keep food lasting longer. Pickling, for example, goes beyond cucumbers give radishes, green beans, or carrots a try. Click here for a Master Class on preserving food at home.
  1. Compost: Rather than throwing away scraps, from vegetable remnants to eggshells, you can compost them into nutrient-rich fertilizer. Compost increases organic matter in the soil to help retain soil moisture and supports the healthy growth of plants, trees, and vegetable crops. Learn more about composting here.

It is always best to practice good hygiene in the kitchen, from disinfecting grocery items to washing your hands before preparing food. Items, such as canned goods, can be wiped down before storing and fresh produce should be washed thoroughly before consuming. Check locally for recycling regulations and always give a quick rinse to remove any food residue from your food carton, glass, plastic, steel, and aluminum containers prior to recycling. As a reminder, freezer bags and plastic wrap/film cannot be recycled in the bin.

Please note: COVID-19 is reported to live on surfaces for an extended period of time, according to a recent study:

  • As an aerosol, for up to 3 hours (e.g. sneezing, coughing, etc.)
  • Clothing – from several hours up to a day
  • Up to 4 hours on copper
  • Up to 24 hours on cardboard
  • Up to 2-3 days on plastic and stainless steel
  • Up to 4 days on glass surfaces like a smartphone

General health and safety:

  1. Exercise physical distancing and wear a mask when required to interact with others.
  2. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, and before eating or preparing food. (CDC)
  3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. (CDC)

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Watch the video: A Flash of Food Safety Handwashing: Why to Wash Your Hands (September 2021).