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15 Ways to Make Your Food Safer

Food Safety Strategies From the Market to the Table
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5. Keep your kitchen clean. Wash your cutting boards, countertops, refrigerator, pots, and utensils regularly in hot, soapy water, especially after they've been in contact with raw meat, poultry, and seafood.

6. Check your cutting boards. They shouldn't have lots of cracks and crevices where bacteria can lurk.

7. Sanitize. The FDA recommends periodically sanitizing your cutting boards, countertops, and kitchen sink drain with a homemade mixture of one teaspoon of chlorine bleach to one quart of water.

Sponges and dishcloths can house bacteria, so wash them weekly in hot water in the washing machine.

8. Store your food properly. Refrigerate frozen and perishable items as soon as possible.

Don't store foods near household chemicals or cleaning products. Some produce -- like onions and potatoes -- don't need to go in the refrigerator, but don't store them under the sink, where they could be damaged by leaky pipes.

9. Check the refrigerator and freezer temperature. Set the refrigerator temperature to 40 degrees Fahrenheit, set the freezer to zero degrees Fahrenheit.

Use a refrigerator thermometer to check those temperatures periodically.

10. Wash your hands. Before you handle food, lather up with soap and hot water, washing your hands for at least 20 seconds. Repeat after handling produce, meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs.

11. Wash fruits and vegetables in running water. A small scrub brush may help, but don't use soap or other detergents to wash produce.

What about produce washes? "All of these solutions and washes may have some applications but studies show that washing with water is as safe as anything else," says Pillai, who calls water the "most effective, the safest, and the cheapest" way to wash produce.

12. Thaw foods in the refrigerator, not on the countertop. It may take longer, but it's safer.

13. Cook foods thoroughly. Use a meat thermometer to make sure meat is fully cooked. Never put cooked meats on an unwashed plate or platter that has held raw meat.

14. Store leftovers safely. Refrigerate leftovers in tight containers as soon as possible and use them within three days. When in doubt, throw it out.

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