Food Safety 101: Tips for Properly Handling and Cooking Food to Prevent Illness


When it comes to food safety, proper handling and cooking techniques are essential to prevent foodborne illnesses. By following these tips, you can ensure that the food you prepare and eat is safe for consumption.

1. Wash Your Hands

One of the most important steps in food safety is to wash your hands thoroughly before handling food. Use soap and warm water and scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.

2. Separate Raw and Cooked Foods

It’s important to avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw meats, poultry, and seafood separate from ready-to-eat foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw and cooked foods.

3. Cook Food to the Proper Temperature

Use a food thermometer to ensure that meat, poultry, and seafood are cooked to the recommended internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria. The USDA recommends the following cooking temperatures:

  • Beef, pork, lamb, and veal (steaks, chops, and roasts): 145°F
  • Poultry (chicken, turkey): 165°F
  • Ground meats (beef, pork, lamb, and veal): 160°F
  • Seafood: 145°F

4. Refrigerate Perishable Foods Promptly

Refrigerate perishable foods, such as meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy products, within two hours of purchasing or cooking. Keep the refrigerator temperature at 40°F or below to slow the growth of harmful bacteria.

5. Thaw Foods Safely

Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator, microwave, or cold water—not on the counter—to prevent bacteria growth. If using the cold water method, change the water every 30 minutes.

6. Don’t Leave Leftovers Out

After serving food, refrigerate leftovers promptly to prevent bacteria growth. Don’t leave leftovers out at room temperature for more than two hours (or one hour if the temperature is above 90°F).

7. Clean and Sanitize Kitchen Surfaces

Keep kitchen surfaces, utensils, and cutting boards clean by washing them with hot, soapy water after each use. Sanitize surfaces with a solution of one tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water to kill harmful bacteria.

8. Be Mindful of Food Recall Notices

Stay informed about food recalls by checking the FDA and USDA websites regularly. If you have purchased a recalled product, follow the recommended actions to prevent illness.


Food safety is essential for preventing foodborne illnesses and ensuring the health of yourself and your loved ones. By following these tips for proper food handling and cooking, you can reduce the risk of contamination and enjoy safe and delicious meals.


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