Preparing and Handling Food

General food safety measures:

  • Thoroughly wash all raw fruits and vegetables before use.
  • Thoroughly wash tops of cans before opening.
  • Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator or put quick thaw foods in plastic bags under cold running water for immediate preparation.  DO NOT thaw frozen foods by allowing them to stand at room temperature.
  • Cover or completely wrap foods during transportation.
  • Never reuse a spoon that has been used even once for tasting.
  • Limit contact with germs by using eating and serving utensils such as forks, knives, trays, spoons, and scoops.  Avoid direct contact between hands and food wherever possible.
  • Make sure each serving bowl has it’s own spoon or serving utensil.
  • Food set aside for second servings should be kept hotter than 60º C/ 140 º F or colder than 4º C/ 39.2 º F to prevent bacteria from growing.  Bacteria grow most rapidly between these temperatures.
  • Cover foods that are stored in the refrigerator and on shelves.
  • Pay close attention to expiration dates, especially on foods that spoil easily, such as dairy products, mayonnaise, and processed meats.
  • Do not use the kitchen as a passageway or meeting room while food is being prepared.

Handling Dairy Products and Raw Meat and Poultry

  • Take special care when handling raw meat, poultry, and eggs.  These foods have small amounts of bacteria that can cause disease if allowed to grow.  After touching these foods, food preparers should wash their hands well and clean and sanitize any cutting boards, dishes, bowls, or utensils they used.
  • Prepare foods containing milk, meat, poultry, fish, or eggs as quickly as possible from chilled products, serve immediately, and refrigerate leftovers immediately.
  • Prevent the growth of bacteria by maintaining these foods at temperatures lower than 4º C/39.2 º F or higher than 60º C/ 140 º F during transportation and while storing before meals.

Cooking Meat

Use a meat thermometer to check that the internal temperatures of poultry and pork reach at least:

  • For poultry and poultry stuffing: 74º C/165.2 º F (Cook stuffing in a separate pan, not inside poultry.)
  • For pork and pork products: 71º C/ 159.8 ºF
  • For beef and lamb products: 74 ºC/ 165.2 ºF


  • Throw away leftover food from serving bowls, with these possible exceptions:
    • whole raw fruit and cut or raw vegetables that can be thoroughly washed before serving again
    • packaged foods that have not been unwrapped and do not spoil
  • Place leftovers in shallow pans, cover, and refrigerate or freeze immediately to rapidly bring the temperature below 4º C/ 39.2 ºF.
  • Discard leftovers and prepared dishes after they have been in the refrigerator for two days.
  • Do not send leftovers home with children or adults because bacteria could grow during transport.