Clean – Separate – Cook – Chill: Basic Food Safety Steps

by Alison Brinker, RD, LD

The holidays are a great time to review food safety guidelines. A person with diabetes is at higher risk for foodborne illnesses. With diabetes, your immune system may not readily recognize harmful bacteria or other pathogens. This delay in the body’s natural response to foreign invasion places a person with diabetes at increased risk for infection. If a person with diabetes contracts a foodborne illness they are more likely to have a lengthier illness and require hospitalization compared to a person without diabetes. During the holidays many people are preparing food for friends and family. Making sure it is prepared safely is a must to prevent anyone from getting a foodborne illness.ID-10026109

Four basic steps to food safety:

  • Clean
  • Separate
  • Cook
  • Chill

Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often. Bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen and get onto cutting boards, utensils, counter tops, and food. Wash hands in warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers or handling pets. Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with hot soapy water between the preparation of raw meat, poultry, and seafood products and preparation of any other food that will not be cooked. You can also sanitize cutting boards and counter tops by rinsing them in a solution made of one tablespoon of unscented liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Plastic cutting boards may be run through the wash cycle in your automatic dishwasher. Wash produce by rinsing under warm tap water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten. Clean the lids of canned goods too before opening.

Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate. Cross-contamination occurs when bacteria are spread from one food product to another such as with raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. Always keep these foods and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods such as salad. Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat without first washing the plate with hot soapy water. Don’t use marinades used on raw foods unless you bring them to a boil first. Consider having two cutting boards; one designated for raw meat, poultry and seafood and the other for ready to eat foods such as bread, fruits, raw vegetables and cooked meat.

Cook: Cook all meats to the recommended temperature. Use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature in several places to make sure that the meat, poultry, seafood or egg product is cooked to the correct temperature to prevent foodborne illness.


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