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Here are some easy tips to keep food safe

BLACKSBURG, Va., Aug. 24, 2007 – Is “risk” something you associate with sitting down to eat a meal? Probably not, considering the United States prides itself on having the safest food in the world. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 76 million Americans suffer from food-borne illness each year.

Consumers often associate food-borne illness with raw meat, poultry, and seafood. In reality, any food can be a culprit – even fruits and vegetables. This can happen as a result of cross-contamination. Cross-contamination occurs when bacteria spread from one food product to another, said Renee Boyer, food safety specialist for Virginia Cooperative Extension. For example, Salmonella may infect a cucumber if sliced on a cutting board after raw chicken.

Cross-contamination is easily avoided by following a few simple guidelines when storing and preparing food, explained Boyer.

First, it is important to keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood separate from other foods, even in shopping carts and refrigerators. Place raw meats in a plastic container or bag and on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator to prevent juices from dripping on other foods.

Use separate cutting boards for raw meats and other foods.

Wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with soap and warm water before touching any foods, and especially after handling raw meats. Always be sure to use clean dishes and utensils too.

Make sure you use a clean plate to put cooked foods on following preparation. Cooked food should never be placed on a plate that held raw meat, poultry, or seafood.

Following these simple guidelines in your household can help you take the “risk” out of sitting down for a meal.


Contact: Renee Boyer
Virginia Cooperative Extension Family and Consumer Sciences
Virginia Tech
(540) 231-4330
rrboyer@vt.edu

Contact: Michael Sutphin
Writer
Communications and Marketing
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Virginia Tech
(540) 231-6975
msutphin@vt.edu

Writer: Susan Suddarth
Student Intern
Communications and Marketing
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Virginia Tech