Proper food handling and storage

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Approximately 1 in 6 Americans will get sick from food poisoning this year. You can stay safe by following four simple steps: clean, separate, cook and chill.

Keep hands and surfaces clean. Bacteria can live in many places.

Remember to wash hands, utensils and surfaces properly and often to keep your family safe. Wash your hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds and dry with a clean towel. Wash all surfaces and utensils after each use. Use hot, soapy water to clean items and a paper towel or clean washcloth to wipe down surfaces. Wash fruits and vegetables even if you plan to peel them.

Avoid cross contamination. Use separate cutting boards and plates for produce and ready-to-eat food and for meat, poultry, seafood and eggs. Keep meat, poultry, seafood and eggs separate from other foods when grocery shopping and when storing them in the refrigerator.

Cook foods to the correct temperature. Bacteria multiply quickest in the “Danger Zone,” between 40 and 140º F. To ensure that food is done, use a food thermometer. Keep hot food hot. Use a slow cooker or warming tray to keep foods above the Danger Zone. When reheating foods in the microwave, it’s important for them to be 165º F or higher to minimize bacteria.

Refrigerate cold foods promptly. To slow bacteria growth, refrigerate perishable items within two hours. Bacteria multiply rapidly at room temperature so never thaw or marinate foods on the counter.

Stop by the Trimble County Cooperative Extension Service at 43 High Country Lane, Bedford, for a free cutting board and meat thermometer while supplies last.   

Follow the guide below to know when it’s time to toss a food item.

Source:  Janet Mullins, Extension Specialist for Food and Nutrition, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.

Jane Proctor is Trimble County’s Cooperative Extension agent for family and consumer services.

Product     Storage Time
In Refrigerator    Storage Time
In Freezer
Ground meat    1-2 days    3-4 months
Chops    3-5 days    4-6 months
Steaks and roasts    3-5 days    6-12 months
Cooked meat and meat dishes    3-4 days    2-3 months
Gravy and meat broth    1-2 days    2-3 months
Lunch meat (opened)    3-5 days    1-2 months
Sausage    1-2 days    1-2 months
Hot dogs (opened)    1 week    1-2 months
Bacon    1 week    4-6 months
Whole Poultry    1-2 days    12 months
Giblets    1-2 days    3-4 months
Cook Poultry, Leftover    3-4 days    4-6 months
Soups and stews    3-4 days    2-3 months
Fresh in shell eggs    3-5 weeks     
Hard-boiled eggs    1 week