Food Safety First

Follow a Healthy Routine:  Wash, Separate, Cook, and Chill

Food is only nutritious if it's safe to eat!  Each year it is estimated that 48 million people get sick from a foodborne illness, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die.  September has been named Food Safety Education Month to encourage people to learn about and implement food safety practices.  

Put food safety first by following these four practices:  Separate, Wash, Cook, and Chill - and not always in that order. 

Wash -We want to wash our fresh produce items to remove any dirt and germs.  Some items you can wash ahead of time such as lettuce and grapes, others such as berries, you will want to wash right before eating. Fact:  The added moisture will make berries mold much quicker!  Also, you do not need to wash meat or chicken.  Washing chicken actually spreads more bad germs around than it does help.

Separate - For different foods, use different knives and cutting boards.  Keep foods that will be cooked separate from those that are ready to eat. At home, when placing food in the refrigerator, always make sure produce is on the top shelves or in a crisper, followed by red meat, with chicken at the very bottom. This order is related to the temperature each food needs to be cooked to in order to ensure it is safe to eat.

Cook - Cooking food to the appropriate temperature is a vital step in food safety.  The only true way to tell if a food is cooked is to use a thermometer and check the temperature.  The color or texture of foods is not a good indication that it is cooked.  Follow this chart to ensure your foods are cooked to the correct temperature.  Be sure to note 'rest time'.  Rest time is important in ensuring the temperature is the same throughout!

Category
Food 
Temperature (°F) 
Rest Time
Ground Meat
 
Beef, pork, veal, lamb
Poultry:  turkey, chicken
160
160
None
None
Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb
Steaks, roasts, chops
145
3 Minutes
Poultry
Chicken, turkey, duck, goose, stuffing in bird
165
None
Pork and Ham
Fresh pork and ham
Precooked ham (to reheat)
145
140
3 Minutes
None
Eggs & Egg Dishes
Eggs, whole
Egg dishes
Cook until egg white is firm
160
None
None
Leftovers & Casseroles
Leftovers
Casseroles
165
165
None
None
Seafood
Fin Fish
Shrimp, lobster, and crabs
Clams, oysters, and mussels 
Scallops 
145
Cook until flesh is pearly and opaque. 
Cook until shells open during cooking. 
Cook until flesh is milky white or opaque and firm. 
None
None
None
None

Chill - Of course once you bring the foods into your home, place any that need to be refrigerated right away.  Then once you have cooked your foods, be sure to place any leftovers in larger, shallow dishes and refrigerate promptly.  Avoid letting food sit out, before, or after meal times. My rule of thumb is to have food sit out no less than 35 minutes!  Once it has been out of the fridge or cooked, within 35 minutes, I get it into the fridge!

With these four steps, you will be on your way to serving safe, nutritious foods.  Happy, healthy eating!

References: 
https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/basics/index.html
https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/mintemp.html
https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/foodborne-germs.html


"This medical and/or nutritional information is not intended to be a substitute for individual advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition."


Stephanie Edson Wellness Specialist SpartanNash
Stephanie Edson Regional Wellness Specialist
Stephanie is an award-winning registered dietitian who believes in empowering every individual to make nutritious food choices to support a healthy lifestyle. She believes in the power of food as medicine and loves sharing about nutrition with others.