Did you know? Food borne illness (food poisoning) is common, costly, and preventable. Each year, 1 in 6 Americans get sick from contaminated foods or beverages. About 128,000 people are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year. Food poisoning is caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can be in the food.four steps foodc_z

How can you prevent it?

Illness-causing bacteria can survive in many places. Wash your hands, utensils, and surfaces to prevent the spread of bacteria to your food, and your family. Use one cutting board for fresh produce, and another one for raw meat, poultry, or seafood. Wash them thoroughly before using them again. Wash fruits and vegetables first to prevent the spread of bacteria from the outside to the inside as you cut or peel them.

Bacteria multiply very rapidly at room temperature! Do not leave food at room temp for more than two hours. (This also applies to foods on picnic tables!) Never thaw or marinate foods on the counter. Freezing does not destroy harmful bacteria, but it does keep food safe until you can cook it. You can cook meat and poultry from a frozen state, but the cooking time will be about 50% longer.

15_258377-C_Heitfield_Food Safety Twitter GraphicsKeep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods at the grocery store and in the refrigerator. Place raw meat, poultry, and seafood into plastic bags or containers to prevent their juices from dripping on other foods.  Keep eggs in their original carton and store them in the main compartment of the refrigerator – not in the door.

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