Most People Can’t Name The USDA’s 4 Steps To Food Safety

“Food safety experts know that following the four steps to food safety is easier said than done.”

Closing the gap between food safety messages and consumer action

USDA calls food safety education meeting for early October

September 5, 2020

Food Safety News – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is holding a virtual public meeting on Oct. 6 to discuss the state of consumer food safety education, current research, and future studies and engagement to close the gap between food safety messages and consumer action.

“USDA has been a leader in consumer education for years, and now we have the evidence to show how and why our food safety messages are critical,” said USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Mindy Brashears.

“By using research to continually improve food safety education, based on empirical data instead of assumptions, we can change consumer behavior and decrease foodborne illness nationally.”

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The public meeting, “Food Safety: Consumer Outreach and Education Today and for the Future,” is set for noon to 4 p.m. on Oct. 6.

It is scheduled to feature presentations from food safety experts on their current and upcoming work and will highlight partnerships that have set the stage for the continued improvement of consumer food safety.

Participants must register online to attend, and can indicate if they would like to speak at the meeting when they register.

FSIS invites those interested in public health and advancing food safety to comment in writing on activities and research that promote safe consumer food handling.

“Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill”

Food safety experts know that following the four steps to food safety, “Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill,” is easier said than done.

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The FSIS is conducting groundbreaking research to understand how consumers truly handle food in the home, with research partners RTI International and North Carolina State University.

By observing consumers as they prepare meals and conducting interviews, focus groups, and web surveys, FSIS uses data to redesign and reimagine food safety outreach programs. SOURCE. 

Learn more about FSIS food safety consumer education here.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

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4 Steps to Food Safety

How do you prevent food poisoning?

USDA – Did you know that 1 in 6 Americans will get sick from food poisoning this year alone?

Food poisoning not only sends 128,000 Americans to the hospital each year—it can also have long-term health consequences.

Following the four simple steps – clean, separatecook and, chill – below can help keep your family safe from food poisoning at home.

Clean: Wash Hands, Utensils, and Surfaces Often

Illness-causing germs can survive in many places around your kitchen, including your food, hands, utensils, and cutting boards.

Wash your hands the right way:

  • Use plain soap and water—skip the antibacterial soap—and scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse hands, then dry with a clean towel.
  • Wash your hands often, especially during these key times when germs can spread:
    • Beforeduring, and after preparing food
    • After handling raw meat, poultry, seafood, or their juices, or uncooked eggs
    • Before eating
    • After using the toilet
    • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
    • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
    • After touching garbage
    • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
    • Before and after treating a cut or wound
    • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing

Wash surfaces and utensils after each use:

  • Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with hot, soapy water especially after they’ve held raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs.
  • Wash dish cloths often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.

Wash fruits and vegetables, but not meat, poultry, or eggs:

  • Cut away any damaged or bruised areas, then rinse fruits and vegetables under running water without soap, bleach, or commercial produce washes.
  • Scrub firm produce like melons or cucumbers with a clean produce brush.
  • Dry produce with a paper towel or clean cloth towel.
  • Don’t wash meat, poultry, eggs, or bagged produce marked “pre-washed”.

Additional Information:

Food Safety Quick Tips: Clean (FDA)

Cleanliness Helps Prevent Foodborne Illness (USDA)

Separate: Don’t Cross Contaminate

Use separate cutting boards and plates for produce, meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs:

  • Use one cutting board for fresh produce or other foods that won’t be cooked before they’re eaten, and another for raw meat, poultry, or seafood. Replace them when they are worn.
  • Use separate plates and utensils for cooked and raw foods.
  • Wash thoroughly all plates, utensils, and cutting boards that touched raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs before using them again. Use hot, soapy water.

Keep certain types of food separate:

  • In your shopping cart, separate raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from other foods and place packages of raw meat, poultry, and seafood in plastic bags if available. When you check out, place raw meat, poultry, and seafood in separate bags from other foods.
  • At home, place raw meat, poultry, and seafood in containers or sealed plastic bags. Freeze them if you’re not planning to use them within a few days.
  • In the fridge, keep eggs in their original carton and store them in the main compartment—not in the door.

Additional Information:

Food Safety Quick Tips: Separate (FDA)

Be Smart. Keep Foods Apart. Don’t Cross-Contaminate. (USDA)

Cook to the Right Temperature

Food is safely cooked when the internal temperature is high enough to kill germs that can make you sick:

  • Use a food thermometer to be sure your food is safe. When you think your food is done, place the food thermometer in the thickest part of the food, making sure not to touch bone, fat, or gristle.
  • Refer to our Minimum Cooking Temperatures Chart to be sure your foods have reached a safe temperature.

Keep food hot (140˚F or above) after cooking:

If you’re not serving food right after cooking, keep it out of the temperature danger zone by using a heat source like a chafing dish, warming tray, or slow cooker .

Microwave food thoroughly (165˚F or above):

  • Read package directions for cooking and follow them exactly to make sure food is thoroughly cooked.
  • If the food label says, “Let stand for x minutes after cooking,” follow the directions — letting microwaved food sit for a few minutes enables colder areas to absorb heat from hotter areas.
  • Stir food in the middle of heating. Follow package directions for commercially prepared frozen food; some are not designed to be stirred while heating.

Follow special guidelines for barbeques and smokers:

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