Food Safety at Home

Warmer weather can easily cause food to spoil. Cooking meats to a proper internal temperature and keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cool helps stop foodborne bacteria from growing.

Following these four simple steps can help keep you and your family safe from food poisoning at home.

CLEAN: Wash hands and surfaces often

washing hands in sink

Illness-causing bacteria and viruses can survive in many places around your kitchen, including your hands, utensils and cutting boards. Unless you wash your hands, utensils and surfaces the right way, you could spread these germs to your food and your family.

  • Wash hands the right way—for 20 seconds with soap and running water. Be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Wash surfaces and utensils after each use. Rinsing utensils, countertops and cutting boards with water won’t do enough to stop bacteria from spreading. Clean utensils and small cutting boards with hot, soapy water. Clean surfaces and cutting boards with a bleach solution.
  • Wash fruits and veggies—but not meat, poultry, or eggs. Even if you plan to peel fruits and veggies, it’s important to wash them first because bacteria and viruses can spread from the outside to the inside as you cut or peel them.

SEPARATE: Don’t cross-contaminate

woman cutting meat on cutting board

Even after you’ve cleaned your hands and surfaces thoroughly, raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs can still spread illness-causing germs to ready-to-eat foods—unless you keep them separate.

COOK: Cook to the right temperature

raw chicken and meat thermometer

One of the basics of food safety is cooking food to its proper temperature. Foods are properly cooked when they are heated for a long enough time and at a high enough temperature to kill the harmful bacteria and viruses that cause foodborne illness.

While many people think they can tell when food is “done” simply by checking its color and texture, there’s no way to be sure it’s safe without following a few important but simple steps.

CHILL: Refrigerate promptly

separate containers in fridge

Illness-causing bacteria and viruses can grow in many foods within two hours unless you refrigerate them. During the summer heat, cut that time down to one hour.

To learn more, visit the Oregon Health Authority.

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