The U. S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued numerous recommendations for the general public on how to avoid food-borne bacteria. Several food industry groups have issued food safety guidelines as well. A combination of both government and industry recommendations follows. Each item may present different problems, but some rules apply to all foods. Several additional recommendations were added for high-risk groups.
General Public Advisory:
* Select dairy products, raw meat, poultry, eggs and seafood last when grocery shopping. Go directly home after food shopping and store perishables in the refrigerator or freezer immediately.
* Keep raw foods and cooked foods separate when shopping and during refrigeration, preparation and cooking of foods. Otherwise bacteria that may be present in raw meat, poultry or seafood might contaminate a cooked or ready-to-eat food.
* Wash hands, knives and cutting boards in hot, soapy water before and after handling uncooked foods.
* Rinse raw meats, poultry and seafood with cold water before cooking to get rid of surface bacteria and other matter.
* If marinating a particular food, keep the dish stored in the refrigerator and never on the kitchen counter.
* Rinse raw fruit and vegetables thoroughly with water before eating. Special attention should be paid to melons, such as cantaloupes, which should be refrigerated immediately after they are sliced and until serving.
* Thoroughly cook all food of animal origin, including eggs. Cook raw meat to an internal temperature of 160 degrees, raw poultry to 180 degrees and raw fish to 160 degrees or until it is white and flaky. Reheat leftovers thoroughly or until steaming hot.
* Keep aprons, towels, cloths and sponges clean. Do not reuse dish clothes or sponges used to clean meat or poultry juices without washing. Replace sponges frequently.
* Read and follow food label instructions to "keep refrigerated" and "use by" code dates.
* Only thaw frozen food in the refrigerator or, if necessary, under cold running water. Do not thaw frozen food at room temperature.
* Only purchase raw eggs that have been refrigerated. Keep eggs under refrigeration throughout storage until ready to use. Keep raw eggs separate from cooked or ready-to-eat foods. Use eggs within 21 days of purchase. Do not use cracked or dirty eggs. Wash hands, counter surfaces and utensils with soap and hot water whenever they come in contact with raw eggs. Consume cooked egg dishes as soon as possible or refrigerate immediately.
* Purchase seafood that is well-iced or refrigerated and only from reputable commercial sources. Do not buy seafood from street vendors. Refrigerate seafood immediately after purchase and consume fresh seafood within a few days.
* Keep hot foods hot, or above 140 degrees. Do not keep cooked foods at room temperature for longer than two hours. Harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella, Listeria, \o7 E. coli \f7 and other pathogens, thrive at room temperature.
* Keep cold foods cold, or below 40 degrees. Do not let cold foods stand at room temperature for more than two hours.
* Keep the refrigerator clean and cold. Set to a temperature between 34 degrees and 40 degrees.
* Divide leftovers into small, shallow covered containers before refrigerating so that they chill rapidly and evenly. Refrigerate leftovers immediately after each meal.
* When grilling, use one plate to carry raw foods out to the grill and then a separate, clean plate for bringing cooked foods to the table.
In addition to the above precautions, persons considered to be at high risk for food-borne illness should:
* Avoid raw or undercooked fish, shellfish, meat, poultry and eggs.
* Avoid raw or unpasteurized milk.
* Reheat leftover foods or ready-to-eat foods such as hot dogs thoroughly until steaming hot before eating.
* Pregnant women and immuno-suppressed persons may choose to avoid foods from delicatessen counters or to thoroughly reheat cold cuts before eating.
* Avoid soft cheeses such Mexican-style \o7 queso blanco\f7 , feta, Brie, Camembert and blue cheese. There is no need to avoid hard cheese, processed slices, cottage cheese or yogurt.