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Prevent Food-Borne Illness

Your role in food safety starts as soon as you leave the grocery store. Go straight home and immediately stow your groceries. Check the labels of foods to determine the best way to store them.

Make sure your refrigerators is at 40 degrees or less and your freezer 0 degrees or less. The only sure way to check the temperature is by putting a clearly visible thermometer inside each compartment (but not on the door). Check it often as temperatures can fluctuate, especially in warm weather. If temperatures get too high, adjust the controls.

It's also important to keep your refrigerator and freezer clean. Wipe up any spills immediately. And once a week, wipe down the interior walls, shelves, and rubber gaskets with a weak cleaning solution to sanitize.

Food Storage Dos and Don'ts

Here are some tips to remember when storing and using foods:

  • Wrap foods tightly with two layers of freezer wrap before putting in the freezer or use shrink wrapping for an air-tight seal around the food.
  • Store eggs in their cartons -- and don't keep them on the refrigerator door.
  • Don't wash fresh produce until you're ready to use it. Store it in perforated plastic bags, and use within a few days. Bananas should not be refrigerated.
  • To allow for air circulation in either your fridge or freezer, don't overfill the compartments. Without good circulation, it's difficult to maintain the proper temperatures.
  • Store leftovers in tightly covered containers within two hours after cooking. Use in 3-5 days.
  • Store food and cleaning supplies separate.
  • Keep potatoes and onions in a cool, dry location. Don't refrigerate them or keep them under the sink, where moisture from pipes can cause damage.
  • Check use-by or sell-by dates on food packages. Remember, these dates don't apply once the package is opened.
  • Best-if-used-by dates are the most reliable ones to follow. They take normal handling into account.
  • Put raw meat on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator, in a plastic bag. This will keep the juices from dripping onto other foods.

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