May 23 2018

Food Safety Encouraged as Temperatures Rise

The Saint Louis County Department of Public Health is encouraging residents to practice safe food handling and preparation as temperatures rise. Foodborne illnesses typically rise during the summer months, and are often caused by easily preventable mistakes.

“Many foodborne illnesses can be prevented by following a few simple rules,” said Dr. Echols, Director of Communicable Disease Control Services.

To safely prepare, handle, and serve food, the Department of Public Health recommends the following four steps:

 Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and handling pets.
 Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item.
 Consider using paper towels to clean up kitchen surfaces. If you use cloth towels, launder them often in the hot cycle.
 Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten. Scrub firm produce with a clean produce brush.

 Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from other foods in your grocery shopping cart, grocery bags, and refrigerator.
 Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
 Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs unless the plate has been washed in hot, soapy water.
 Do not reuse marinades used on raw foods unless you refrigerate between uses and bring them to a boil before reuse.

 Color and texture cannot determine safety. Always use a food thermometer for meat, poultry, seafood, and egg products for all cooking methods. Check packaging for the minimum internal temperature.
 When cooking in a microwave oven, cover food, stir, and rotate for even cooking. If there is no turntable, rotate the dish by hand once or twice during cooking. Always allow standing time, which completes the cooking, before checking the internal temperature with a food thermometer.
 Bring sauces, soups and gravy to a boil when reheating.

 Use an appliance thermometer to be sure the refrigerator temperature is consistently 40° F or below and the freezer temperature is 0° F or below.
 Refrigerate or freeze meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, and other perishables within 2 hours of cooking or purchasing. Refrigerate within 1 hour if the temperature outside is above 90° F.
 Never thaw food at room temperature, such as on the counter top. Foods can be defrosted: in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave. Food thawed in cold water or in the microwave should be cooked immediately.
 Always marinate food in the refrigerator.
 Divide large amounts of leftovers into shallow containers for quicker cooling in the refrigerator.

For more information on food safety and foodborne illness, please visit:

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