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Food Safety Guidelines

Safety first!

Use this quick reference to learn best-practices for safe food handling.

Safety Tips for Meat

Prevent foodborne illness by following these safety guidelines when handling and cooking meat.


  • Store meat in the coldest part of the refrigerator, away from the door.
  • Make sure packages are sealed completely to avoid drips.
  • Freeze meat if it will not be cooked within two days (beef: steaks, chops, and roasts are okay for three or four days).
  • If you plan to freeze meat for longer than two months, remove wrapping, then rewrap in heavy duty aluminum foil and a plastic freezer bag.
  • If meat is frozen, it will remain safe indefinitely (as long as it isn't frozen after it’s spoiled), though there are more specific freezing hold-times for retaining the meat's quality:


    There are three methods of defrosting:

    • Refrigerator (The amount of time needed to thaw will depend on the size of the piece of meat; a whole chicken will take 24 hours to two days, whereas smaller, cut-up pieces of meat will take two to nine hours.)
    • Cold water bath
    • Microwave on defrost


      • Always use a clean cutting board and clean utensils when handling meat.
      • For chicken: rinse with cold water, inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels before preparing.
      • Use a meat thermometer to determine when meat is done, taking care not to touch the bone. (See sidebar for specific grilling times.) 
      • Meat will continue to cook once it's removed from the heat source, so you can pull it out of the oven or off the grill a few degrees below the target temperature--just keep the thermometer in place and make sure the temperature climbs to a safe heat.

        Safe Eggs

        • Buy Grade A or AA eggs that have been refrigerated--check expiration date.
        • Keep eggs in original carton and do not wash them--this removes a protective coating.
        • Store eggs in refrigerator kept at 40 degree F (4 degrees C), in a colder part of the fridge--not in the door.
        • Fresh eggs can be kept safely in the refrigerator for three to five weeks from the date of purchase--not from the date on the carton.
        • Eat or refrigerate cooked eggs immediately--use cooked, refrigerated eggs within three to four days or freeze for longer storage.

        Cutting Boards

        • Which type is best? The USDA indicates wood or nonporous cutting boards like plastic, glass, marble, or pyroceramic can be used, though the nonporous ones are easier to clean.
        • Designate. Avoid cross-contamination by getting different colored cutting boards and always using the same one for meat and poultry, and another one for produce.
        • Cleaning. There are a few options:

          1) Wash with hot, soapy water; rinse; and pat dry with clean paper towels
          2) Most nonporous can go in dishwasher, as can solid wood boards
          3) All types can be sanitized by soaking them for several minutes in a bleach solution (see sidebar for proportions). Rinse with water and dry with clean paper towels.

          For more food safety and sanitation information, go to the Partnership for Food Safety Education (PFSE) Web site, FightBAC®!

            Feb. 16, 2010 1:27 am
            It would be nice to have a FAQ link, with professional answers, on food safety...
            Jun. 13, 2010 9:12 pm
            Thanks for the advice. I really needed the advice for storing my food in teh fridge. God Bless.
            Oct. 12, 2010 5:24 pm
            why icannot send my frind this topics
            Oct. 24, 2010 1:55 pm
            I have been making jelly for over 20 years. Because the juice has no solids it was not recommended to use the boiling water bath. I have never had a problem with spoilage. Now some are saying everything needs a boiling water bath. My jars are sterilized, the juice is stove hot and jars are turned upside down for 5 minutes and turned upight again. All seals pop and my jars are done. What is different no?
            Patricia O'Toole 
            Feb. 6, 2011 11:33 am
            While growing up my mother had a pantry in the basement that was heated and she would buy canned goods when they were on sale and store them down there. Back then things weren't dated and we were told canned goods were good unless the top was pushed up. I have gotten more grief from friends about eating canned foods that were past their due date. I have never been poisoned and I am 66 years old. We also ate meat as long as it smelled good. Why have we become such a throw away nation? Can someone give me a good reason to throw away perfectly good food? This generation has also become over sanitized. By being so sanitation conscious we are actually killing the good bacteria our bodies produce to protect us.
            Aug. 8, 2011 8:22 am
            it's good for safty food. i like it also i was get full safty food service from E-CRISTEL. SO ITS ALSO GOOD
            Oct. 7, 2011 8:10 am
            How to Clean a Microwave I have just put hot soapy water into my sink, and I'm going to clo... I have a dirty microwave, so I'm going to take this glass plate out and put it down in the sink and let it soak because they get awfully greasy. And then, you want to take the track out that the plate sits on, and I put the soapy water; I mean the soapy detergent and water on the microwave and I'm just going to start cleaning. I'm going to go with the glass and clean the glass and all around, and then I'm going to wring the dirt out and then dip it back into the hot soapy water. And then, I'm just going to go the bottom and really give it a good scrub; the sides, and be sure and get the top. The top, because' it splatters; a lot of times the top is worse than any other part of the microwave, so you want to get the sides, bottom, just everything on the microwave. And then you go back through with a a dry towel and dry it up really good. And then, be careful with your plate since its glass, b
            Dec. 28, 2012 2:09 pm
            How long can flour last, does it go bad,best way to store?
            Jan. 13, 2014 4:54 pm
            Hi everyone, I am a food safety professional with 20 years' experience. Most of the advice given above is correct, although a little incomplete. I would be happy to answer any questions you have! Aiko - you do NOT need a hot water bath for jelly if all your jars are sterilized. Jelly is mainly sugar and fruit juice and will not support the bacteria that is of main concern in improper canning (C. botulinum). The usual problem one will find with jellies are yeasts, which cause spoilage, but not foodborne illness. Patricia - yes and no, you are partially right here! The date you see on commercially packaged products is a "sell-by" date; it is normally not a use by date, unless specified. This means that you can still eat the food after that date, but the food may be of a lower quality. The manufacturers use this date to let the stores know when they should rotate the products on their shelves, so it doesn't get old. A lot of people misunderstand this by thinking they can't eat the food af
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