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Kitchen Safety tips for preparing dinner 

For kitchen safety and your family's health, it's worth knowing how to safely handle and prepare the raw meat, fish, or poultry you'll be cooking and serving for dinner.

While most pathogens that occur naturally in uncooked foods are killed by proper cooking, many germs can spread long before you pop the entree into the oven.

E. coli, hepatitis A, and salmonella - the most common contaminants - can find their way onto a sponge or dishcloth; you, in turn, can then spread the bacteria all over your kitchen unless you make an effort to stop them. Keep germs and bacteria in check - and out of your food - with these kitchen safety tips.

how to safely defrost frozen meat.

  • In the refrigerator: Thaw frozen meat overnight; large cuts may take longer so allot that possibility into your cooking schedule.
  • On the countertop: Place meat in a watertight plastic bag and submerge in a bowl of cold water. Leave just until thawed, changing the water every 30 minutes. Cook or refrigerate promptly.
  • In the microwave: Use the defrost setting, then finish cooking immediately. 

keep cooking surfaces and your hands clean during meal prep.

  • Wipe cooking surfaces clean with hot, soapy water before and after cooking; rinse the surface thoroughly; dry well with paper towels.
  • Wash hands (with soap and hot, running water) before preparing food and after touching raw meat.
  • Wear rubber gloves if there are cuts or sores on your hands.
  • Use separate cutting boards for meats and nonmeats (or disinfect with mild bleach solution between uses).
  • When pounding meat or chicken, cover with a layer of plastic wrap to avoid splattering juices.
  • Wash (with hot, soapy water) all utensils that have touched raw meat.
  • Keep drippings from raw meats away from other food.
  • Disinfect surfaces after contact with raw meat or juice from meat.
  • Rinse fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating or cooking them. To rid them most effectively of germs and pesticide residue, wash them in a pint of water with a few drops of dishwashing soap added; rinse thoroughly.

cook foods to the safe internal temperature.

Cook meat, fish and poultry to these internal temperatures for safety:

  • Beef, veal, lamb (steaks and roasts): 145 degrees F (63 degrees C)
  • Fish: 140 degrees F (60 degrees C)
  • Ground beef: 160 degrees F. (72 degrees C)
  • Poultry: 180 degrees F (83 degrees C)
  • Pork: 160 degrees F (72 degrees C)

serving, cleaning up, and storing leftovers.

  • Wash in hot, soapy water any utensils that were used in preparing food before using them to serve food.
  • Eat hot food while it is still hot; eat cold food while it's still cold.
  • Refrigerate leftovers immediately.
  • Date leftovers and use them promptly; if in doubt about freshness, discard the questionable item. It's not worth a tummy ache in your home.

Visit the Clean Organized Home Store for the food storage supplies and tools you need to keep food safe.

Related Pages

› Kitchen Safety


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About the Author

Tara Aronson

Tara Aronson is a native Californian. Having grown up in San Diego, she studied journalism and Spanish to pursue a career in newspaper writing. Tara, whose three children - Chris, Lyndsay, and Payne - are the light of her life, now lives and writes in Los Angeles. She also regularly appears on television news programs throughout the U.S.