Safe steps in food handling, cooking, and storage are essential
to prevent food borne illness. You can’t see, smell or taste
harmful bacteria that can cause illness. In every step of food
preparation, follow the four Fight BAC!™ Guidelines to keep
food safe:
Clean – Wash hands and surfaces often.
Separate – Don’t cross contaminate
Cook – Cook to proper temperatures
Chill – Refrigerate promptly
Purchase refrigerated or frozen foods at the end of
the shopping trip. Select non-perishable foods first
Never choose meat or poultry in packaging that is
torn and leaking
Do not buy food past the “Sell-By,” or “Use-By” date
Carefully check the package condition of shelf-stable
foods. If packaging has been torn, do not purchase
Put raw meat and poultry into a plastic bag so that
juices will not contaminate other foods
Plan to drive directly home from the grocery store.
You may want to take a cooler or ice during warmer
Never let food sit directly in the sun
Always use a cooler or insulated bag with ice or a gel
ice pack
If a cooler or insulated bag is not an option bring
fruits, hard cheese, canned meats or fish, peanut
butter, jelly, bread, crackers, or cooked cereal
Keep hot foods in a thermos or insulated dish
Always refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours (1
hour when the temperature is above 90 degrees)
Check the temperature of your refrigerator and
freezer with an appliance thermometer. The
refrigerator should be at 40°F or below and the
freezer should be at 0°F or below
Cook or freeze fresh poultry, fish, ground meat, and
variety meats within 2 days and other beef, veal,
lamb, and pork within 2 to 5 days
Perishable food such as meat and poultry should be
wrapped securely to maintain quality and prevent
juices from dripping onto other foods
To maintain quality when freezing meat and poultry in
its original package, wrap the package again with foil
or plastic wrap that is recommended for the freezer
High acid canned foods such as tomatoes, grapefruit,
and pineapple can be stored on the shelf for 12-28
months. Low acid canned foods such as meat,
poultry, fish, and most vegetables will keep 2-5 years
if the can remains in good condition and has been
stored in a cool, clean, and dry place. Discard cans
that are dented, leaking, bulging or rusted
Before eating or preparing, wash fresh produce
under cold running tap water to remove any excess
If there is a firm surface, such as apples, melons, or
potatoes – the surface can be scrubbed with a brush
Discard the outer leaves of leafy vegetables such as
lettuce and cabbage
Consumers should not wash fruits and vegetables
with detergent or soap because the FDA has not
approved their use on foods
Produce washes are safe and effective. They are
designed to remove soil, wax, and pesticides. It is
important to rinse produce well after using these
When preparing fruits and vegetables, cut away any
damaged or bruised areas because bacteria can
grow in these crevices. Be sure to cut on a clean
cutting board that has not been contaminated by raw
Immediately refrigerate any fresh-cut items such as
salad or fruit for food safety and best quality
Store produce on a shelf or in a drawer that is above
raw meat so that there is not risk of meat juice
contaminating the produce
Always wash hands before and after handling food
Don’t cross contaminate. Keep raw meat, poultry,
fish, and their juices away from other foods
After cutting raw meat, wash hands, knife, and
countertop/surface, and cutting board with hot soapy
Use a separate cutting board for meats and
vegetables (plastic only)
Sanitize cutting boards in the dish washer or in a
solution of 1 tsp chlorine bleach in 1 quart of water
Foods should never be thawed or stored on the
counter, outdoors, or defrosted in hot water because
this allows the food to reach the danger zone
between 40°F-140°F in which harmful bacteria can
Allows slow,
safe thawing.
Make sure
thawing meat
and poultry
juices do not
drip on other
Cold water
Place food in a
plastic bag.
Submerge in
cold tap water.
Change water
every 30 min.
Cook meats
after thawing
in the
For Microwave and cold water thawing it is important
to cook immediately after thawing
Harmful bacteria are destroyed when food is cooked
to the proper temperature. Be sure to buy a meat
thermometer because this is the only reliable way to
ensure safety and ensure if the food is cooked to the
proper temperature
When roasting meat and poultry, use an oven
temperature no lower than 325°F
Cook ground meats to 160°F; ground poultry to
Beef, veal, lamb steaks, roasts and chops may be
cooked to 145°F; all cuts of fresh pork must be 160°F
Whole poultry should reach 180°F in the thigh and
170°F in the breast
Reheat hot dogs, cold cuts, and deli-style meats
Hot food should be held at 140°F or warmer
Cold food should be kept at 40°F or cooler
When serving food at a buffet, keep food hot with
chafing dishes, slow cookers, and warming trays.
Keep food cold with nesting dishes in bowls of ice or
use small serving trays and replace them often
Perishable food should not be left our for more than 2
hours at room temperature (1 hour when the
temperature is above 90°F)
Discard any food left out at room temperature for
more than 2 hours (1 hour when the temperature is
above 90°F)
Place food into shallow containers and immediately
put in the refrigerator or freezer for rapid cooling
Use cooked leftovers within 4 days
Meat and poultry defrosted in the refrigerator may be
refrozen before or after cooking. If thawed by other
methods cook before refreezing
© Jessica Iannotta Department of Nutritional Sciences UMDNJ SHRP
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