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In the United States, food-borne diseases cause approximately 76 million
illnesses, and 5,000 deaths each year. Most of the victims are very young, very old, or have weakened immune
systems. By storing and cooking foods safely and keeping your kitchen
clean, you can reduce your family's risk of becoming ill.
Meats, poultry, fish, dairy products, and eggs can spoil quickly. These foods
naturally contain bacteria that can cause
illness if the foods are not stored or cooked properly. Summertime
picnics and grilling outdoors requires special precautions to keep
food safe for everyone. The Holidays and
preparing a turkey or hardboiled eggs for a celebration
may also present
unique challenges for keeping food safe and preventing the spread of
Tips on Food Handling
Avoid cross contamination. Wash your hands
every time before coming into contact with food. Wash
hands/utensils after handling raw meat, fish, or
Wash your hands often. Use soap
and water to wash, and paper towels or clean cloth towels to dry your hands.
Research has proven that frequent hand washing is the most effective
way to prevent food-borne illnesses.
Keep perishable foods refrigerated or frozen until they are used.
Thaw frozen items in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or
a microwave (as part of the continuing cooking process). Marinate food in the refrigerator.
Make sure the temperature in your refrigerator
is below 40°F. Keep a thermometer in the refrigerator
and check it often. Adjust the thermostat to a cooler setting
Examine foods and all date
labeling. Buy foods with the longest period to the expiration
date. Don't buy food items if the packaging is damaged.
Throw away foods that
dont look and smell fresh. A change in the odor or
appearance of foods is often a sign of spoilage. Throw away eggs with cracked shells.
Be sure cutting boards and knives are
thoroughly scrubbed and washed with soapy water after each
use. These items can easily transfer disease-causing bacteria
from raw meats and poultry to vegetables, fruit, or cooked
meat. Use different cutting boards for raw and ready-to-eat
Dont use marinades that have come
into contact with raw meat or poultry as dips or for basting.
If you want to use the marinade for these purposes, boil it first or
prepare a separate portion for that use.
Store raw meat, poultry, and fish in the
meat drawer of your refrigerator or in tightly sealed plastic bags
to prevent juices from leaking onto other foods.
meats, fish and poultry in a pan on the lowest shelf so that juices
won't drip on other foods.
Cover ready-to-eat foods in the fridge
to protect them from cross-contamination by raw meats or unclean
Use effective and protective plastics
for freezing foods.
Use a meat thermometer to be sure meats are
thoroughly cooked, especially ground meats from combined sources,
like hamburger. Beef, lamb and pork should reach an internal
temperature of at least 160°F. Juices should run clear
and there should be no sign of pink inside the meat. Poultry
should reach an internal temperature of 170°F (breasts) to 180°F (whole
birds and thighs). The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a
cooking temperature chart (exit
DHS, PDF 478 KB) on their website.
Cook all seafood. Avoid eating raw
fish, raw clams, oysters, and mussels. The US Food and Drug
Administration recommends cooking seafood to an internal temperature
of 145°F for 15 seconds.
Cook eggs until the whites are firm and the yolks begin to harden.
Dont eat foods
that contain raw eggs such as cookie dough, egg dressings, eggnog,
or homemade mayonnaise. Pasteurized egg products are available
that can be used safely to prepare these foods.
Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold until they are served.
To prevent illness hot
foods should be held at 140°F or higher and cold foods should be held at
40°F or lower until they are served.
Cool foods rapidly before storage.
If you are preparing large quantities of food for later use, cool
the food rapidly. Some methods include: placing the container in
an ice-water bath, dividing the food into several small containers before
refrigerating, including ice as an ingredient, stirring with an ice
wand, and providing greater air circulation around the product
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Many harmful germs can survive for several hours on kitchen surfaces.
Reduce your risk of illness by keeping cutting boards, countertops,
utensils, dishcloths, and towels clean. Dont use sponges in the kitchen.
They tend to collect small food particles and are difficult to clean.
Use a weak chlorine bleach solution (2 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water)
as a kitchen sanitizer. You may want to keep a supply of this solution
in a spray bottle near the sink.
Tips on Housekeeping
Clean and disinfect bathroom toilet
bowls and seat, sinks, counters and tubs at least weekly.
Disinfect cutting boards. Clean
cutting boards in hot, soapy water using a scrub brush to remove
food particles and germs that are lodged in the tiny crevices and
cuts. Then spray the boards with a weak chlorine bleach
solution, rinse, and allow them to air dry.
Keep sink disposals and dishwashers free
of food debris. Keep counters and table tops clean.
Clean counters and tabletops after they are used for food
preparation. A weak bleach solution can be used to sanitize
Start each cooking session with a clean
dishcloth and towel. Damp sponges and dishcloths can harbor
millions of germs. Avoid using sponges in the kitchen and
launder dishcloths and towels frequently.
Remove trash/rubbish each day to
discourage insects and other pests from entering your home.
Use disposable paper towels to wipe up juices from raw meat,
poultry, or fish.
Wipe up spills in the refrigerator
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Household dust contains many substances that can cause
allergies, including animal dander, dust
mites residues, molds, and plant pollens. Room-sized and whole-house
air filtration systems can reduce dust levels in your home. Frequent damp
mopping, vacuuming, and dusting are also important dust-control measures.
Tips for Allergy Sufferers
Install an air filter on your heating system.
Remove draperies, book collections, stuffed animals, and carpets from the bedroom of an allergy
Use dust-proof mattress and pillow
covers and wash these once a week in hot water.
Avoid feather and down-filled pillows and comforters.
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Insects, mice and other pests enter homes in search of food, water, and shelter.
Once inside, they can be nuisance and may even pose a health hazard.
Discourage insects, rodents, and other pests from taking up residence in
your home by limiting their access to food and water.
Since most pesticides are toxic and can trigger allergies or asthma
attacks, they should be used only as a last resort. Apply pesticides
carefully, following the directions on the label.
If you have a question about the safe use or disposal of a pesticide, contact the manufacturer.
A toll-free telephone number and address are usually listed on the product
Tips on Pest Control
Keep countertops clean and wash dishes soon after eating.
Take out the trash every day. Store trash outdoors in animal proof garbage cans with
Keep cereals, crackers, cookies, and sugar in sealed containers.
Fix plumbing leaks so that water is not available to pests.
Caulk cracks around the foundation of your home and repair damaged siding.
electric and plumbing lines come through walls should be sealed.
Use screens on all
windows and vents, and install tight-fitting outside doors to keep mice, bats and insects
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For more information
Prepared by the
Wisconsin Dept of Health Services
Division of Public Health
Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health
February 13, 2014