The Keys to Food Safety

The key to food safety is you!

Foodborne illnesses happen when food has disease causing organisms such as bacteria, viruses or parasites are on them on in them. If these organisms are allowed to survive and multiply they can cause foodborne illness.

The food may get these disease causing organism anywhere from the farm to the fork.

Foods that are most at risk for causing foodborne illnesses are foods that require time and temperature control to keep them safe as well as foods that are served raw.

Foods of animal origin are at risk because they may come with disease causing organism in them or on them

Such as beef (e. coli) or poultry, eggs and dairy products - salmonella or campylobacter

These disease causing organisms grow in the gut of the animal and the meat may become contaminated at the time of slaughter or harvesting.

The manner in which these foods are processed, packed, transported, displayed, prepared and served determines if the disease causing organisms are controlled.

Meat Safety:

Always buy meat from an approved source.

Time and temperature control is critical

Cold Holding:

• All meats must be stored to maintain an internal temperature of 41 degrees Fahrenheit

• Do no purchase meats if the store refrigeration is not maintaining this temperature, if you have a question on the temperature of the meat please ask the store operator and they can show you the thermometer and identify the meat temperature.

• Once the meat is in your control, transport it quickly to a refrigerated unit that can maintain the temperature at 41 degrees Fahrenheit. (while shopping, buy refrigerated and frozen items last and if traveling a long distance bring insulated transport bags with you to protect the product.

• In your home please place the meats in the refrigerator (you should have a refrigerator thermometer in your refrigerator and the air temperature should be about 38 degrees Fahrenheit to keep food at 41 degrees Fahrenheit.

• Place the meat where it will not drip or spill on other items in the refrigerator.

• Poultry should be stored above ground beefs/pork/ and these should be store above whole muscle meats such as steaks or fish.


• Handwashing is the number one way to break the chain of infection and cross contamination. Wash you hands at the start of preparation and as often as is necessary to prevent cross contamination from raw to finished food product, other food products and surfaces as well as utensils.

• When preparing the meats for cooking it is critical to keep these food preparation area clean and to separate the meats to prevent cross contamination.

• If thawing meats four approved methods

o In refrigerator overnight best way

o In protective packaging under cool water flowing from a tap and draining

o In the cooking process

o In the microwave and finish cooking immediately

• It not recommended to wash meat off before you cook it, the act of washing it may cause cross contamination of disease causing organisms in your kitchen

• Remove meats from refrigeration and prepare for cooking.

Kill Step in Cooking

• Different meats require different cooking temperatures to kill germs associated with the product

o See attached thermometer

Hot Hold

• If meats are not to be served right away it is critical to hold them hot at 135 degrees to prevent the growth of germs that were not killed in cooking or any other germs that may have been cross contaminated to the food during the cooking process (sneezes, dirty utensils etc.

Cool Down

• This is a main cause of disease causing organisms multiplying to a number that can cause a toxin to form or enough germs to make you sick

• It is critical to cool meat products (food dishes that contain meat products and cooked vegetables or cooked grains in them) from 135 degrees Fahrenheit to 70 degrees Fahrenheit in two hours (this is the time and temperature where germs grow the fastest)

• This step may require additional help depending on the quantity of food. An ice bath is the best way to quick chill. Put the food in protective container and place in clean sink with clean ice ( a pot is ok or zip lock baggy if properly sealed)

• Once chilled place in refrigerator and continue chilling to 41 degrees Fahrenheit in the remaining four hours. (if you put the product in the refrigerator at night around bed time and then check the temperature in the morning and it has not cooled to 41 degrees Fahrenheit you could have a serious problem. This quick chill makes the food safer and stops the cooking processes so the food tastes better.


• If you are reheating foods that have been cooled down you must zip through the time and temperature zones.

• Cold hold to reheat must go from 41 degrees Fahrenheit to 165 degrees Fahrenheit in tow hours. Again this is to keep germs from growing and to destroy toxin that may be removed when heated to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

As always keep your hands clean, your work space and utensils clean, separate foods raw foods from cooked foods, separate meats by cooking temperatures, foods that do not require cooking such as raw vegetables must be separated from cooked foods and raw meats.


Food thermometer that measures zero to 180 degrees Fahrenheit

Refrigerator thermometers that measure zero to 180 degrees Fahrenheit

Soap for handwashing

Paper towels to dry hands

When cleaning surfaces, especially cutting boards and preparation surfaces you should soapy wash, clear rinse and use a sanitizing solution of bleach about 1 capful per gallon of water to dip items in to get rid of germs that may cause foodborne illnesses.

If meats are slimely, have an off smell, discolored it may be a sign of spoilage and they should be discarded.