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Basic Food Handling Practices

Careless food handling and storage can cause illness in the family, even though the foods were safe to eat when first purchased or prepared. Protect your family by taking these simple food handling practices and precautions when storing foods:

Prevent contamination of foods and the spread of food borne illness by handling foods properly. That means strict cleanliness for anyone handling or preparing foods, as well as making sure that all utensils, equipment and work surfaces are clean. (Solutions of 3 T. bleach in 1 quart of warm water will help destroy bacteria on counter tops and other surfaces.)

Store pantry foods safely by making sure that the storage area is clean, dry, and free of any household cleaners or chemicals that could be mistaken for food. Rid the area of household insects, particularly houseflies and cockroaches that carry bacteria. Store pantry foods away from excessive heat; maintain a temperature of 35°-40° in your refrigerator, 0° in your freezer or refrigerator freezer compartment. (Readily available refrigerator and freezer thermometers should be used.)

Prepare foods for storage carefully. Containers for pantry storage should be clean and tightly closed to keep out dust and insects. (Read labels: some packaged or canned goods require refrigeration after opening.) Fresh meat, for refrigerator storage, should be wrapped loosely, just enough to allow air to circulate but not enough to let meat dry out raw poultry should be unwrapped, placed on a dish, and covered. Giblets should be wrapped and stored separately. The rules are reversed for leftovers: they should be tightly covered. (Be particularly careful with uncooked or cooked foods containing eggs.) For freezing, items should be wrapped tightly in moisture resistant such as freezer wrap or foil.

Never taste questionable food.  If in doubt, throw it out!