Nutrition Newbie” is a series focused on basic nutrition information and tips.

Special Blog Post By: Luiza Naslausky, Nutrition Education Coordinator, Santa Clara County

Did you know that one in six Americans could get sick from food poisoning this year? Most of the time people recover within a couple days, but sometimes the effects of food poisoning can be devastating and in the worst of cases, deadly. At the Food Bank we take food safety with extreme caution to ensure that our food is handled with the upmost safety.

Don’t let the Bay Area heat spoil your food. Here are some tips for you to keep your food cool and safe at home as well.

Cleaning:

The number one cause of foodborne disease is poor personal hygiene. Make sure to always properly wash your hands (for 15 seconds with soap) before handling food. Cleaning utensils, cutting boards and surfaces are also important since pathogens can survive in these surfaces.

Wash fruits and veggies to help remove any dirt or bacteria that may be present. Washing raw meats, poultry and eggs is not necessary, and should be handled with extra precaution as they can splash their juice that might be contaminated, onto your sink and countertops.

Separate:

Raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs naturally contain some pathogens. By separating these food items (and the surfaces they come into contact with) from ready-to-eat foods, the risk of cross-contamination can be significantly reduced. Use one cutting board for produce and one for raw meat, poultry or seafood. In your refrigerator these items should not be stored above ready to eat food. They should be placed in separate containers to avoid their juices from dripping onto other food. Don’t forget to apply the same rule when you are bagging your food at a grocery store.

Cook:

Cooked foods are safe for consumption after being heated to specific temperatures in order to kill pathogens. Relying on color to cook ground turkey or poultry is an extremely ineffective food safety practice. Use a food thermometer to be sure and follow the guidelines below.

Chill:

Do you know that pathogens multiply quickest in the “danger zone” (between 41 °F and 135 °F)? Make sure to refrigerate perishable foods within 4hrs in order to prevent bacterial growth.  And if it is a hot day (90 °F) cut that time down to one hour!

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, perishable foods should never be thawed on the counter or in hot water. The safe ways to thaw food are: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave.

Be safe and enjoy your food!

***Catch up on our past Nutrition Newbie posts.