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July 2021

HOME FOOD SAFETY

We cannot see, smell or taste harmful bacteria that may be in food.  Foodborne illness can cause anyone to get sick, however, those with a compromised immune system and older adults are at a higher risk.  Restaurants are not the only place where foodborne illness can occur.  Getting ill from food is actually more common at home. Food handling habits at home are key to keeping food safe.

FOOD SAFETY BASICS – The FOUR Core Practices

1) CLEAN - wash hands & surfaces often.  Bacteria & viruses can spread throughout the kitchen and get onto hands, utensils, countertops and food.

  • Wash hands with warm water & soap for at least 20-seconds before handling food; wash again after handling raw meat or eggs, using the bathroom, touching pets, taking out the trash or when they become contaminated.
  • Clean & sanitize food contact surfaces before and after preparing meals or eating.
  • Thoroughly rinse fresh fruit and vegetables under cold running water.
  • Clean the lids on canned goods before opening. If cans show signs of leakage or bulging, toss them out.

2) SEPARATE - don’t cross-contaminate.  Cross-contamination is how bacteria can be spread.

  • Always separate raw and ready-to-eat foods; separate clean produce from unclean produce.
  • Start with clean hands, cutting boards, counters and food contact surfaces.

3) COOK - cook or reheat to safe temperatures. Foods need to get hot and stay hot.  Heat kills bacteria.

  • Cook foods thoroughly and use a food thermometer to verify cooking temperature.
  • When microwaving, cover, rotate & stir food.  If using pre-packaged meals, follow label directions.
  • Bring soups to a boil. Reheat leftovers until piping hot, or 165°F. 

4) CHILL - refrigerate promptly.  Cold temperatures slow the growth of bacteria.

  • Keep the refrigerator temperature at or below 41°F, it is one of the most effective ways to keep food safe. Have a thermometer in it to check the temperature.  Avoid overloading the fridge.
  • Always thaw & cool leftovers in the refrigerator, never leave on the counter. Date leftovers, use within 2-3 days.

GUIDELINES FOR DELIVERED MEALS

  • Cold Foods – refrigerate immediately. If meals are frozen put in the freezer.
  • Discard cold meals after 2-3 days OR the “use-by” date on the label.
  • Hot meals should be eaten right away OR put in the refrigerator and reheated until piping hot. Only keep for 2-3 days in the fridge.
  • Frozen food must be re-heated until it is piping hot or to 165°F.  If not eaten, it can be held in the refrigerator up to 3 days and then discarded.
  • Never taste the meal to see if it is still good.  When in doubt throw it out!

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