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10 common food safety mistakes

Photo: xavierarnau/iStockphoto

Did I cook that long enough? I’m supposed to rinse off chicken when I take it out of the package, right? Eating raw cookie dough won’t really make me sick.

These are just some of the food safety mistakes people make. Help prevent foodborne illnesses by follow these guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  1. Folks older than 65 and younger than 5, pregnant women, and people who have health issues or weakened immune systems are at higher risk of food poisoning. Foods to avoid: undercooked or raw food items, unpasteurized milks and juices, and soft cheeses.
  2. Did you wash your hands? If the answer is “no,” drop that food you’re handling and wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and hot water. Wash them again once you’ve finished preparing the food.
  3. Don’t wash raw meat, chicken or turkey. This spreads germs to your sink, countertops and other kitchen surfaces. Cooking these foods to the proper temperature will kill any germs.
  4. On the other hand, you should wash fruits and veggies under running water before you cook with them – even if you’re going to peel them. Germs on the skin of these foods can transfer when they’re cut or peeled.
  5. Before you put cooked meat on a plate, ask yourself: Did the same plate hold the raw meat? If so, you risk spreading germs from the raw meat juices to your cooked food. Get a new plate.
  6. Cook food at a high enough temperature to kill all germs:
    • 145° F for beef, pork, veal, lamb, ham and seafood
    • 160° F for ground meats
    • 165° F for poultry, leftovers and casseroles
  7. Help eliminate E. coli, salmonella and other bacteria risks by cooking or baking flour and eggs thoroughly.
  8. Not sure if that leftover food is safe to eat? Check a storage time chart to see how long you can safely store food.
  9. If you typically thaw or marinate food items on your kitchen counter, don’t. This can spread germs quickly. Get in the habit of thawing food in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave, and always marinate food in the fridge.
  10. Don’t let food sit out. Germs can grow in perishable foods, so put food in the fridge within two hours or throw it out.

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