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By Monica L. Martinez, MPH,RD, LD

Registered Dietitian, Advice for Eating – Nutrition and Wellness Consulting

One in six Americans will get food poisoning this year alone and for many it can send them to the hospital. Here is a food safety checklist to help you avoid food poisoning.

Clean: Wash your hands and cooking area/surfaces regularly. It’s recommended to wash your hands with cold water soap and for 20 seconds. For your cooking surfaces, as a precautionary use, you can use a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of water to sanitize washed surfaces and utensils.

Separate: To help keep bacteria from spreading between ready to eat foods and raw food items it’s important to keep them separate. The three main areas to keep food separate is in the fridge, grocery cart, and cutting boards. Use separate cutting boards for vegetables and meats. Keep ready to eat food separate from raw meat in the grocery cart. Finally, all raw meat should be kept at the bottom of the fridge while ready to eat foods are held on the shelving above the meat.

Cook: The danger zone for bacteria growth is between 40-140F. It’s helpful to keep a food thermometer around to ensure you cook your food to the proper temperature (beef and poultry 165F, pork 145F, and leftovers and casseroles 165F).

Chill and Store: Allow food to cool properly before storing in fridge and storage should take place within 2 hours. Most leftovers will last 3-5 days, but if ever doubt just throw away. Write throw away dates on leftover and opened foods to help ensure you know when food has gone bad. one bad.

Monica Martinez, MPH, RD, LD is a registered dietitian who received a Bachelor’s of Science in Nutrition from the University of Texas at Austin and completed her Master’s of Public Health Degree and dietetic internship at the University of Texas Health Science Center and School of Public Health. Martinez is interested in different aspects of dietetics including childhood obesity, weight management and healthy cooking techniques as well as specializing in healthy home cooking.

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