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May 2020


We cannot see, smell or taste harmful bacteria that may be in the food that we eat.  Foodborne illness can cause anyone to get sick, however, those with a compromised immune system and older adults are at a higher risk.  Safe steps in food handling, cooking and storage are key to keeping food safe.


  • Cold meals must be kept cold, at or below 41°F.
  • Refrigerate your meals immediately upon delivery.
  • Discard cold meals after 3 days.  This includes sandwiches and other protein products. Foods with “use-by” dates can be eaten until the “use-by” date on them.
  • Frozen food must be re-heated until it is piping hot or to 165°F.  If not eaten, it can be held in the refrigerator for 3 days and then discarded.
  • Check your refrigerator/freezer temperature.  If the refrigerator is above 41°F and freezer above 10°F, adjust the refrigerator thermostat.
  • Never taste the meal to see if it is still good.  When in doubt throw it out!


  • Avoid overloading the refrigerator and have a thermometer in it.
  • Keep eggs in the original carton on the bottom shelf. Store raw meat & poultry below cooked foods.
  • Date foods, especially leftovers. Use leftovers within 3 days.
  • Check dates on packaged foods, read storage labels.
  • Rotate foods - first in, first out.
  • Store dry goods in containers with tight fitting lids. If cans show signs of leaking or bulging, toss them out.

To prevent foodborne illness, always follow these four simple steps:

1. CLEAN – wash hands & surfaces often.  Bacteria & viruses can spread throughout the kitchen and get onto hands, utensils, counter tops and food.

Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20-seconds before and after handling food; after using the bathroom; after handling pets and after taking out the trash.

Clean and sanitize food contact surfaces before and after preparing meals or eating.

Rinse fresh fruit & vegetables under cold running water.

2. SEPARATE – do not cross-contaminate.  Cross-contamination is how bacteria can be spread.  Always separate raw and ready-to-eat foods and separate clean produce from unclean produce.  Start with clean hands, cutting boards and counter tops.

3. COOK – cook or reheat to safe temperatures. Cook foods thoroughly and use a food thermometer.  When microwaving, cover, rotate and stir food.  Reheat leftovers to 165°F.  Bring soups to a boil.

4. CHILL – refrigerate promptly.  Refrigerate food promptly.  Cold temperatures slow the growth of harmful bacteria.  Keeping the refrigerator temperature at or below 41°F is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Always thaw and cool leftovers in the refrigerator, never leave on the counter to thaw.


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