Begin with a clean cooking space:
- Before you even begin to prepare food always wash your hands in warm soapy water.
- Your cooking equipment, surfaces and any food contact surface must be clean.
- Bacteria can live on kitchen towels, sponges and cloths so be sure to wash and replace these items often.
Avoid Growth of Harmful Bacteria
- Do not leave meat out at room temperature for any length of time.
- Marinate food in the refrigerator.
- Wash and sanitize towels, sponges and dish cloths often.
Prevent Cross Contamination
Cross contamination occurs when safe-to-eat food comes into contact with bacteria, chemicals, or other unwanted items, making the food unsafe to eat.
Cross contamination commonly happens in three ways:
- Raw meat and/or its juices come into contact with cooked or ready-to-eat food.
- Dirty hands come into contact with cooked or ready-to-eat food.
- Dirty utensils come into contact with cooked or ready-to-eat food.
To prevent cross contamination:
- Use separate cutting board for raw meat, fish and chicken. This helps to prevent cross contamination.
- If you only have one cutting board, make sure to thoroughly wash your hands, cutting board, and knife in hot soapy water after cutting one food item and continuing onto the next.
- Keep raw meat, poultry and fish (and their juices) away from cooked or ready-to-eat food.
- Properly wash your hands (LINK TO HAND HYGIENE) often especially after handling raw meat and its juices.
Cook Food to the Proper Internal Temperature
Cooking to the proper internal temperature kills harmful bacteria. Use a probe thermometer to check that the food is cooked to the proper internal temperature:
How to Use a Probe Thermometer
- Insert the probe thermometer in several spots and in the thickest part of the meat. A probe thermometer should not touch bone inside the meat.
- Check the internal temperature of food for at least 15 seconds
- Always clean and sanitize the probe thermometer after you use and before you use it to check a different food item. This will prevent cross contamination.
Thawing and Defrosting Frozen Food
- Defrost food safely in a container in the refrigerator, microwave or under running cold water.
- When defrosting food in the refrigerator, place the food on a plate (or in a container) on the bottom shelf and allow 10 hours per kilogram to defrost.
- When defrosting food in the microwave, be sure to use microwave-safe containers and cook the food immediately after defrosting.
- Do not defrost food on the kitchen counter. At room temperature, bacteria can grow on the outer surface of the food before the inside defrosts which makes the food unsafe to eat.
- To reheat foods like sauces, soups and gravy bring them to a rolling boil.
- Heat other leftovers thoroughly to an internal temperature of 74°C (165°F).
- An accurate probe thermometer should be used to check the internal temperature of cooked and reheated foods for at least 15 seconds.
- Reheat different food items separately as they will likely take a different amount of time to properly heat up.
- Microwaving sometimes leaves cold spots in food where bacteria may survive. To prevent cold spots, stir and rotate food often.
- Cover food with a microwave-safe lid or plastic wrap. Leave a small section uncovered so steam can escape, and don’t let the wrap touch the food.
- Observe the standing time called for in a recipe or package directions. Food finishes cooking during the standing time.
- Use a probe thermometer to check that the food is cooked to the correct internal temperature.