WASHINGTON, August 15, 2017 - During the busy fall season, whether you're preparing a packed lunch for your child, a weeknight dinner for the family, or a tailgate feast for the whole crew, make sure you prevent foodborne illness by following USDA's four steps to food safety: Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill.
Clean: Wash your hands and cooking surfaces before and after handling food. Wash fruits and vegetables before eating, cutting, or cooking. Make sure lunch boxes and coolers are clean before packing.
Separate: Avoid cross contamination. Don’t let raw meat, poultry, or egg products come in contact with fruits, vegetables, or prepared foods. Never put cooked food on a plate or tray that held raw meat or poultry.
Cook: When cooking, use a food thermometer to make sure food reaches a safe minimum internal temperature needed to destroy harmful bacteria. Cook raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, roasts, and fish to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F and let them rest for three minutes before eating. When cooking raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal, make sure the meat reaches a minimum internal temperature of 160°F. Egg dishes should also be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature of 160°F. All poultry should be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F.
Chill: When packing food, use an insulated lunchbox or cooler and at least two cold sources, such as freezer packs. Discard any perishable foods that were left at room temperature longer than two hours (one hour in temperatures above 90°F).
Lunch Packing Tips:
Eating and Disposal Tips:
Consumers can learn more about key food safety practices at Foodsafety.gov, by following @USDAFoodSafety on Twitter, and by liking Facebook.com/FoodSafety.gov. Consumers with questions about food safety can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or chat live with a food safety specialist at AskKaren.gov, available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, in English or Spanish.