The recent listeria outbreak makes it clear that being allergic to a food is not the only reason ordinary food might pose a severe health hazard.
Below is a summary of food safety tips from the Centers for Disease control, as highlighted in CNN's How to Keep Your Food Safe:
- Clean. Wash hands thoroughly before cooking. Also wash anything used for cooking, including utensils, cookware, counters, cutting boards, and tableware. Be sure especially to wash hands after touching raw meat or produce and in between handling different types of food.
- Separate. Keep uncooked food away from food that could be carrying harmful bacteria. Use separate cutting boards for different foods or wash the cutting boards thoroughly between items. Also separate utensils used for cutting or serving.
- Cook. Cook food to at least a temperature of 140 degrees. Note that the ‘danger zone’ in which germs thrive is between 40 degrees and 140 degrees. Check food's internal temperature with a thermometer, taking care not to contaminate food with the thermometer. When you're keeping food warm, make sure the internal temperature doesn't drop below 140 degrees.
- Chill. Chill leftovers quickly, and in general, keep foods cold. Use a thermometer to make sure your refrigerator temperature is 40 degrees or below. Your freezer should be 0 degrees or below. Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.