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Food Safety Tips to Keep In Mind When Preparing a Meal

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year, 48 million people get sick from a foodborne illness. September is nationally recognized as Food Safety Awareness Month, highlighting the need to put into practice food safety measures when preparing and serving food. We’ve put together some tips for being conscious of food safety.

Before preparing your meal, begin by washing your hands and surfaces in your kitchen with soap and hot water. You never know what types of bacteria can be lurking on your kitchen counter tops or on your hands, as we come in contact with and touch many different things throughout our day.

Always rinse fresh produce before consuming or cooking it. Thoroughly rinse with water and allow to air dry before you begin preparing your meal. When it comes to firm produce, use a clean produce brush to scrub the skin of your produce before using it. Many pesticides, dirt particles and possible bacteria can be on your produce.

The CDC recommends that after preparing any food items, you wash your cutting boards, utensils, dishes and countertops with hot, soapy water. If you’re hosting a party or gathering that requires preparing food in advance, use containers to divide up the prepared food and store in a refrigerator or freezer until the function begins.

When hosting or attending a gathering, the CDC recommends throwing away any perishable foods that have been sitting out at room temperature for two hours or longer. If you’re attending a picnic or outdoor function, throw food away if it’s been sitting out at a temperature of 90° F or hotter.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shares the following tips for food safety when preparing or serving a meal:

-Rinse fresh produce including those with skins and rinds.

-Scrub firm produce with a clean produce brush

-Separate raw meats from other foods

-When cooking frozen foods, allow them to thaw in your refrigerator or in cold water beforehand. Never thaw at room temperature.

-Use a food thermometer to monitor when foods are a safe internal temperature.

Meals and gatherings are meant to bring people together, safely! You’ll want to keep these tips in mind when preparing food to ensure no one has to miss out due to illness.