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Check Your Steps! SEPARATE Raw Meats from Other Foods to Keep Your Family Safer From Food Poisoning

For the past two Tuesdays as part of the Food Safe Families campaign, I’ve blogged about two basic food safety steps that are important but easy to implement in your food prep routine—cook and clean. Today, I’m going to focus on preventing a sneaky food safety hazard that can happen at many points between purchasing and eating food: cross-contamination.

Cross-contamination occurs when juices from uncooked foods come in contact with safely cooked foods, or with other raw foods that don’t need to be cooked, like fruits and vegetables. The juices from some raw foods, like meats and seafood, can contain harmful bacteria that could make you and your family sick.

The Food Safe Families campaign uses humorous public service announcements to capture the public’s attention about a very serious subject. The “separate” PSA reminds consumers to separate raw meats from other foods by using different cutting boards.

The Food Safe Families campaign uses humorous public service announcements to capture the public’s attention about a very serious subject. The “separate” PSA reminds consumers to separate raw meats from other foods by using different cutting boards.

When shopping:

  • Separate raw meat, poultry and seafood from other foods in your shopping cart and on the way home. The shrink-wrapped containers may leak, so place them in plastic bags to prevent their juices from dripping onto other foods.

In the refrigerator:

  • Place raw meat, poultry and seafood in containers, on plates or in sealed plastic bags to prevent their juices from dripping onto other foods.
  • Store eggs in their original carton and refrigerate as soon as possible.

When preparing food:

  • Use hot, soapy water and clean paper towels or clean cloths to wipe up kitchen spills, and wash cloths often using the hot cycle of your washing machine.
  • If possible, use one cutting board for meat, poultry and seafood and another one for fruits and vegetables. Otherwise, wash cutting boards, dishes and counter tops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item.
  • Always use a clean cutting board, and replace cutting boards that have become excessively worn.
  • Marinate food in the refrigerator, following the above storage guidelines. Reserve a clean portion of marinade for using on cooked meat, poultry, and seafood. To reuse marinade that held raw food, bring it to a boil before using it on cooked food.

When serving food:

  • Never place cooked food back on the same plate or cutting board that previously held raw food unless the plate has been washed first in hot, soapy water.
  • Likewise, never serve cooked food with the same utensils that handled raw food, unless they have been washed first in hot, soapy water. This means taking two sets of plates and utensils out to the barbecue grill—one set for handling the raw food, and the other for removing cooked food from the heat.

For more information on preventing cross-contamination, go here. Check back every Tuesday for another Check Your Steps blog post (last week’s focused on “Clean”), and follow #checksteps on Twitter for updates on the Food Safe Families campaign.

 

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