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- Get a thermometer for your refrigerator and hang it in the warmest part of the fridge—by the door or on a top shelf. Make sure the air temperature stays at 41 F or colder. You may need to set the temperature slightly colder than 41 degrees to keep the food cold enough, depending on how often you access the refrigerator and how well the air circulates.
- Use a food thermometer when cooking raw meats. It will help you ensure you are cooking food to the right temperature and can also help prevent overcooking. Digital thermometers are easiest to read, are relatively cheap (around $10-15), and are easy to use. You can verify the thermometer is accurate if it measure 32 degrees in crushed ice water.
- When washing produce, remove stickers first and do not use soap on the produce. Use a clean brush if you have one to clean the surface of the produce, especially any unsmooth surfaces which can trap bacteria. Remove the produce from its container before washing it and store any unused produce in a new clean container after washing.
- At room temperature, bacteria in food can double every 20 minutes. Refrigerate foods quickly because cold temperatures keep most harmful bacteria from multiplying.
- Any raw meats, fish, and poultry that you do not use within 1-2 days of purchasing should be stored frozen. Leftovers (cooked foods) can be stored for 3-4 days – if your refrigerator is 41F or colder.
- The closer food temperatures are to your body temperature, the more rapidly bacteria will grow. Discard any perishable foods left at room temperature longer than 2 hours. (When temperatures are above 90°F, discard food after 1 hour!)
- Rotten eggs will float in water. Fresh eggs will sink.
- Microwave your wet sponge for 2 minutes to kill 99% of the disease-causing germs and bacteria on it (the sponge must be wet for this to work).
- Store raw meat and poultry below other foods to prevent cross-contamination. Cross-contamination is when raw meat juices that contain salmonella or E. coli end up on produce or other foods that won’t be cooked prior to eating.
- Don’t rinse or “wash” raw chicken or turkey before cooking. The act of washing or rinsing doesn’t do anything to kill germs in the chicken. It actually spreads germs within the sink and on any items that get splashed during the rinsing process. The only way to kill salmonella in or on poultry is to cook it to 165F or hotter.
- When cleaning your kitchen counters, sanitize surfaces by using a commercial sanitizing spray or make your own by mixing one teaspoon of liquid, unscented bleach to one quart of water. Do not use more than the recommended amount of bleach as it can leave a toxic residue on surfaces.