Skip to main content Skip to Navigation Skip to Footer
page banner image

Food Safety at Home

Did you know that most cases of foodborne illness happen at home? That’s why it’s important to follow food safety guidelines to prevent yourself and your family from getting sick.

Germs that cause foodborne illness do not taste or smell bad so you may not know they are in your food. They grow best in foods that are high in protein and moisture, are not overly acidic, and at temperatures between 4°C–60°C (40°F-140°F) also known as the temperature Danger Zone. These germs double in numbers every 20 minutes when left at this temperature range. High numbers can make you sick. You can keep your food safe by following the steps below:

Four Steps to Food Safety

  1. Clean: wash hands, fruits and vegetables, counter tops and utensils before you start and between tasks.
  2. Separate: keep raw and ready-to-eat foods separate when you shop, store and prepare foods, and keep food covered.
  3. Cook: cook foods to the recommended temperature and keep hot foods hot at 60°C (140°F) or higher.
  4. Chill: cool foods in shallow containers and keep cold foods cold at 4°C (40°F) or lower. Thaw food in the refrigerator.

Remember to follow the above food safety practices when you:

  • Shop for Food
  • Thaw Food
  • Prepare a Meal
  • Cook Food
  • Cool Leftovers
  • Preserve Food by Canning (see Safely Canning Food at Home), Freezing or Drying

Don’t Wash Your Chicken!

Although raw poultry can carry bacteria on the surface, research has shown that washing raw poultry under running water in your kitchen sink splashes bacteria all over you, surfaces in the kitchen, and any other food you have nearby. This can make people sick, especially young children, pregnant women, older adults and the immunocompromised.

Instead, just take raw poultry straight from the package into the cooking pan. The heat from the cooking process will kill any bacteria that are present. Then simply clean up any splashes and wash your hands with soap and hot water.

Don't Wash Your Chicken Animation

Food Safety After a Power Outage or Emergency

Power outages, fires and floods can affect the safety of your food. To find out how to protect you and your family from possible foodborne illness after these events, see Food Safety Following an Emergency.