Basic Food Safety

December 27, 2022, 5:49 pm

Foodborne illness, or food poisoning, is estimated to make 1 in 6 Americans sick each year. Handling food safely can help prevent the growth of dangerous bacteria that causes foodborne illness.

The FDA has outlined the following steps to help ensure better food safety:

  1. Clean – Wash your hands and food prep surfaces thoroughly before and after handling food.
  2. Separate – Always keep raw meat, poultry and eggs separated from other foods to avoid cross-contamination.
  3. Cook – Cook foods fully to kill bacteria. Use a food thermometer to ensure foods have reached a safe minimum internal temperature using this food temperature chart as a guide.
  4. Chill – Keep raw foods cold and chill leftover food quickly by storing in the refrigerator or freezer.


Most leftover foods that have been fully cooked and quickly cooled can be safely stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Frozen leftovers are best eaten within 3 to 4 months. If you are unsure how old your leftovers are, it is best to throw them away.

Foodborne Illness Symptoms

Depending on the type of bacteria, symptoms of foodborne illness can begin to appear from 30 minutes to several weeks after consuming contaminated food. The most common symptoms can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain and/or cramps
  • Fever and/or flu-like symptoms

If your symptoms are severe, you should see a doctor a soon as possible.

Visit for information about current and past food recalls and foodborne outbreaks from the CDC, FDA, and USDA.



Food Poisoning Symptoms | CDC

Leftovers and Food Safety | Food Safety and Inspection Service (

Safe Food Handling | FDA

Food Safety at Home | FDA



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