Food Safety Resources

Food safety: Hand holds petri dish over plate with dinner
Each year millions of illnesses in this country can be traced to foodborne bacteria. While the likelihood of serious complications is unknown, the Food and Drug Administration estimates that two to three percent of all foodborne illnesses lead to secondary long-term illnesses.

How Can I Fight Bacteria In My Food?

Safety experts recommend that everyone think about food safety at each step in the food handling process - from shopping to storing leftovers.

Clean: Wash hands, utensils and surfaces in hot soapy water before and after food preparation, and especially after preparing meat, poultry, eggs or seafood to protect adequately against bacteria.

Separate Keep raw meat, poultry, eggs and seafood and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods; never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, eggs or seafood.

Cook Cook food to the proper internal temperature and check for doneness with a food thermometer. Cook eggs until both the yolk and white are firm.

Chill Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared food and leftovers within two hours and make sure the refrigerator is set at no higher than 40°F and that the freezer unit is set at 0°F.

Which Fruit Is Most Likely To Harbor Organisms That Cause Food-Borne Illness?

Because of the little ridges in the skin, cantaloupe is the most likely candidate of the three to cause food-borne illness. Thoroughly wash and dry cantaloupe before slicing it up to prevent the transfer of bacteria from the skin to the fruit.

What Is The Safest Temperature Setting For Your Fridge?

Food-borne pathogens thrive and grow the most rapidly between 40 and 140 degrees. So make sure your refrigerator is set at or below 40 degrees. Keep a refrigerator thermometer in the fridge and check it often. Your freezer should be below 0 degrees. Here, too, it pays to invest in a thermometer.

Which Foods Are Most Likely To Cause Listeriosis?

Listeriosis has been found in cold cuts and lunch meats, as well as hot dogs, patés and imported non-pasteurized cheese spreads. Listeria tends to attack pregnant women, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline can answer your food safety questions.

Learn More About Food Safety: has additional resources.

Fight Back: Partnership for Food Safety Education has resources on safe food handling and foodborne illness.

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy has information on the health implications of how our food is grown, and of environmental pollutants that accumulate in our food.

• Click here to find farms and retail outlets within your zipcode area for buying meat, dairy and other products raised without routine antibiotics, without hormones or arsenic, or otherwise produced in more sustainable ways.

• You can read about federal regulations at the International Food Information Council.

• The National Center For Food Protection And Defense has additional resources.

• Click here for the National Meat Association.

• The Institute of Medicine recently released a report Seafood Choices: Balancing Benefits and Risks, which offers information on risks due to pollutants in seafood, the health benefits of this food source, and information consumers need to know to choose among different seafood varieties.