Refrigerate Food Quickly

Whether you’re bringing food home from the grocery store, getting groceries delivered, or storing leftovers or takeout, make sure you refrigerate perishable food quickly. Put meat, seafood, eggs, milk, fruits, vegetables, and other perishables in the refrigerator or freezer within 2 hours (within 1 hour if the temperature outside is above 90°F).

Do not leave perishable food sitting out. Bacteria that can cause food poisoning (foodborne illness) grow quickly when food sits in the “Danger Zone” between 40°F and 140°F, which includes room temperature.

To protect against bacteria growth that could cause food poisoning, set your refrigerator temperature at 40˚F or below. Follow these additional steps to keep perishable food safe:

  • Divide a large quantity of hot food, such as a big pot of chili, into smaller portions in several clean, shallow containers so it will chill faster.
  • Check Foodsafety.gov’s Cold Food Storage Chartexternal icon to know how long it’s safe to keep food in the refrigerator.
  • Store raw meat on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, away from fresh produce and ready-to-eat food.
  • Throw out foods left unrefrigerated for over 2 hours.

Read these CDC webpages for more information on food safety:

Updated CIFOR Guidelines for Foodborne Outbreak Response Released

The Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response (CIFOR) has updated its CIFOR Guidelines for Foodborne Disease Outbreak Response in a streamlined third edition. The guidelines are a comprehensive source of information on foodborne disease investigation and control for local, state, territorial, tribal, and federal health agencies.

The revised guidelines address rapid and continuing changes in many aspects of food safety, including laboratory technology, data sharing, improved disease detection methods, increasing centralization of food production, and changing eating habits.

The guidelines can be downloaded now. A limited number of free, printed versions will be available in fall 2020.

Home Canning and Botulism

Home canning is a popular activity during summer and an excellent way to preserve fresh fruits and vegetables from your garden. But, be aware that if home canning is not done properly, your home-canned vegetables and fruits ─ as well as other foods, including meats and seafood ─ could cause botulism.

Read our updated feature, Home Canning and Botulism, to learn about proper canning techniques and the signs and symptoms of botulism, a rare but potentially deadly illness that requires immediate medical care. This feature can also be found in Spanish.