Food Safety in the Kitchen
Use these tools and tips to help prevent food poisoning every time you prepare food in the kitchen.
Your kitchen is filled with food safety tools that, when used properly, can help keep you and your loved ones healthy. Learn how to make the most of these tools so that your kitchen is your home’s food safety headquarters.
- Hand washing is one of the most important things you can do to prevent food poisoning. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and running water. Scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Wash fruits and vegetables before peeling. Germs can spread from the outside to the inside of fresh produce as you cut or peel.
- Do not wash raw meat, poultry, or eggs. Washing these foods can actually spread germs because juices may splash onto your sink or counters.
Cutting board and utensils
- Use separate cutting boards, plates, and knives for produce and for raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.
- Clean with hot, soapy water or in dishwasher (if dishwasher-safe) after each use.
Use a food thermometer to make sure food cooked in the oven or on the stove top or grill reaches a temperature hot enough to kill germs.
Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures
- All poultry, including ground: 165°F
- Ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal: 160°F
- Beef, pork, lamb, and veal chops, roasts and steaks: 145°F
- Fish: 145°F
- Know your microwave’s wattage. Check inside the door, owner’s manual, or manufacturer’s website. Lower wattage means longer cooking time.
- Follow recommended cooking and standing times, to allow for additional cooking after microwaving stops. Letting food sit for a few minutes after microwaving allows cold spots to absorb heat from hotter areas and cook more completely.
- When reheating, use a food thermometer to make sure that microwaved food reaches 165°F.
- Keep your refrigerator between 40˚F and 32˚F, and your freezer at 0˚F or below.
- Refrigerate fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs, and meats within 2 hours. (Refrigerate within 1 hour if the temperature outside is above 90ºF.)
- Divide warm foods into several clean, shallow containers so they will chill faster.
- Store raw meat on the bottom shelf away from fresh produce and ready-to-eat food.
- Throw out foods left unrefrigerated for over 2 hours.
- Thaw or marinate foods in the refrigerator.
Computer or mobile devices
- Look for more tips to keep food safe at cdc.gov/foodsafety and foodsafety.gov.
- Stay up to date on food recalls at foodsafety.gov/recalls.
Now that you’re geared up for food safety, take our quiz to test your know-how on kitchen tools and tips to prevent food poisoning.
Learn more about preventing food poisoning and food safety steps you can follow to keep food safe.
- Page last reviewed: August 5, 2016
- Page last updated: March 14, 2018
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