Don't let germs mix and mingle with your food

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Some things don’t mix: Dogs and cats, oil and water, Pluto and real planets. This notion rings especially true for food safety. Raw meat, poultry, fish and eggs may carry harmful bacteria, so keeping these foods separate from fresh, ready to eat foods is crucial to preventing foodborne illness. When germs “jump ship” from a contaminated food or surface to a previously safe food or surface, this is known as cross-contamination. This can happen at any step between the grocery store shelves and your plate.

 

1. Prevention of cross-contamination starts in the cart. While shopping, keep raw meat, poultry, fish and eggs separate from the rest of your food. At the checkout, make sure these raw items are placed in separate plastic bags so that don’t contaminate your safe, ready-to-eat foods.

2. All those refrigerate drawers are there for a reason, so don’t let your produce and meat compartments fall out of use. Storing raw meat, fish, poultry, and eggs separately in your refrigerator help to keep dangerous germs away from fresh foods, like produce.

3. Germs don't always take the direct route. They can be transferred from raw, uncooked foods onto your cutting boards, hands, or dish towels before finding their way onto fresh or cooked food (and into your mouth, yuck). After preparing raw meat, poultry, fish ,or eggs, always wash your cutting board thoroughly with hot soapy water before cutting fresh foods. Or, better yet, always use separate cutting boards for meat and produce. (Facts/hacks)

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4. And don't forget the top spot for kitchen cross-contamination: your dishtowels. Make sure to swap your kitchen towel out for a clean one at least once a week, or opt for paper towels.

 

Put these crucial food safety tips into practice to help keep you and your family foodborne illness-free! Check out our Food Safety Facts & Hacks and all our content for Food Safety Education Month!