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Foodborne Diseases

Family eating dinner

Food is an important part of the holiday season. But holiday meals can take a turn for the worse if food safety isn’t on your menu. To help keep you and your loved ones safe from foodborne diseases, follow the four basic steps of food safety – Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill — now and throughout the year.


Key Facts

  • Foodborne disease (sometimes called foodborne illness or food poisoning) is common, costly – and preventable.
  • Germs that cause illness can survive on your hands, utensils, and food preparation surfaces, such as cutting boards and countertops.
  • Raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can spread germs to ready-to-eat foods – unless you keep them separate.
  • Bacteria that cause food poisoning can multiply rapidly in the “Danger Zone” between 40°F and 140°F.
  • People can spread germs to food and others, especially if they do not wash their hands thoroughly or if they prepare food while sick.


  • Check Your Steps screenshot
  • Food Safety Counts screenshot

Prevention Tips

  • Follow the four basic steps of food safety: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill.
  • Wash your hands, utensils, and surfaces before, during, and after preparing food and before eating to help stop the spread of germs to your food and loved ones.
  • Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from ready-to-eat foods at the grocery store, in your refrigerator, and when preparing and serving food.
  • You can’t tell if food is “done” simply by looking at its color and texture. Use a food thermometer to make sure food is cooked to the safe minimum internal temperature.
  • Refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours, or 1 hour if the outside temperature is 90°F or warmer.
  • The temperature in your refrigerator should be set at or below 40°F and the freezer at or below 0°F.
  • Don’t prepare food for other people if you have diarrhea or have been vomiting.
  • Always be careful when preparing food for people who are more likely to get food poisoning – children younger than 5 years, pregnant women, adults aged 65 and older, and people with weakened immunity, such as those with HIV or receiving chemotherapy.

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