Food Safety

Follow these safety tips when preparing food.

Foodborne illness, sometimes referred to as food poisoning, affects 1 in 6 Americans each year. Foodborne illness not only sends more than 100,000 Americans to the hospital each year— it can also have long-term health consequences.

4 steps to food safety


  • Wash hands and surfaces often.
  • Before any kitchen chore; wash hands with warm water for 20 seconds.
  • Use gloves if you have a cut or infection.
  • Wash countertops, cutting boards, appliances, and any kitchen utensils with hot soapy water before and after use.
  • Sanitize food contact surfaces by mixing 1 teaspoon chlorine bleach to 1 quart water.
  • Consider using paper towels to clean kitchen surfaces rather than sponges or cloths.
  • If you use cloth towels or sponges, wash them in the hot cycle of your washing machine.
  • If using a sponge, sanitize it daily by getting it damp and heating it in the microwave for one minute, or place the dirty sponge in the hot cycle of your washing machine and dry thoroughly on a high setting.
  • Replace old and worn cutting boards.


  • Separate raw meats from other foods.
  • Use a separate cutting board for fresh fruits/vegetables and raw meats.
  • Always wash hands with hot soapy water and wash surfaces after touching raw food, including fresh cracked eggs.


  • Cook food to the proper temperature


  • Refrigerate potentially hazardous food promptly, and maintain refrigeration temperature of 41° F. or below.
  • If not canning, freezing or dehydrating immediately, store most produce unwashed in the refrigerator.
  • Keep foods out of the danger zone (between 41° F. to 135° F.)
  • Refrigerate cut produce promptly.
  • Maintain freezer temperature of 0° F. or below. 

Check out the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service's Kitchen Companion – Your Safe Food HandbookSource: USDA Food Safety

Selecting and Preparing Fresh Produce

  • Select produce that is free of damage
  • Keep produce cool until ready to use
  • Wash produce under cool running water before using
  • Once produce is cut, be sure to refrigerate

Unsafe Practices When Cooking

  • Smoking or use of tobacco while preparing food
  • Eating while preparing food
  • Not covering wounds and sores while handling food
  • Preparing food while sick
  • Not separating raw meat, poultry and seafood from other foods, such as raw fruits and vegetables
  • Not tying hair back
  • Using food dropped on the floor or sink
  • Not washing or sanitizing food contact surfaces

Check your private well water.

For a cottage food operation that does not utilize a municipal water supply, such as an operation using a private well, the local health department may require a water sample test to verify that the water source being used meets public safety standards related to E. coli coliform. If a test is requested, it must be conducted at the cottage food operator’s expense.