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8 Ways to Keep Food Safe at Home

March 5, 2013

The following post appears as part of a series in honor of  National Consumer Protection Week. The Department of Justice Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch is hard at work to enforce food safety laws every day. But there is a lot you can do to keep your family safe at home. Every year, 1 in 6 Americans get food poisoning and 3,000 die from foodborne illnesses. Most will recover without any lasting effects from their illness. For some, however, the effects can be devastating and even deadly. Don’t let this happen to you. These 8 food safety tips will keep you and your loved ones safe when preparing and handling food.

  1.  Wash hands and surfaces often to prevent the spread of bacteria. Be sure to clean all fruits and veggies, too.
  2. To clean kitchen surfaces effectively, use just one teaspoon of liquid, unscented bleach to one quart of water.
  3. Store and prepare meat, poultry, seafood and eggs separately from other foods to prevent cross-contamination.
  4. Cook food at the right temperatures: bacteria that cause food poisoning multiply quickest between 40˚ and 140˚ F.
  5. Use a food thermometer, keep food hot after cooking (140˚F) and microwave food thoroughly (165˚F) to ensure food is safe to eat.
  6. Refrigerate promptly: illness-causing bacteria can grow in perishable foods within 2 hours unless you refrigerate them. 
  7. Never thaw foods on the counter; bacteria grow surprisingly rapidly at room temperatures.
  8. Bacteria that cause food poisoning don’t affect food’s look, smell, or taste. Check if it’s still good at

 For more information on food safety, including recalls and alerts visit  


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Updated March 3, 2017