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Each year foodborne illnesses sicken 48 million Americans and lead to 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. A small percentage of these illnesses are the result of identified foodborne outbreaks, which happen when two or more cases of similar illnesses result from eating the same food.

Why Is Food Safety Important?

Foodborne illnesses are a preventable and underreported public health problem. These illnesses are a burden on public health and contribute significantly to the cost of health care. They also present a major challenge to certain groups of people. Although anyone can get a foodborne illness, some people are at greater risk, especially children younger than age 4, people older than age 50 and those with reduced immunity.

How do you prevent food poisoning?

Following the four simple steps - clean, separate, cook and, chill - can help keep your family safe from food poisoning at home.

Clean: Wash Hands, Utensils, and Surfaces Often

Wash your hands the right way:

  • Use plain soap and water—skip the antibacterial soap—and scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.

  • Rinse hands, then dry with a clean towel.

  • Wash your hands often. Wash surfaces and utensils after each use.

Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with hot, soapy water especially after they’ve held raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs.

Wash dish cloths often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.

Wash fruits and vegetables, but not meat, poultry, or eggs.

Separate: Don’t Cross Contaminate

Use separate cutting boards and plates for produce, meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs and keep different foods separate.

Cook to the Right Temperature

Keep food hot (140˚F or above) after cooking.

Microwave food thoroughly (165˚F or above).

Chill: Refrigerate and Freeze Food Properly

Refrigerate perishable foods within 2 hours.


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