There is no safe food when it comes to food poisoning. Eggs, fruits, meats, vegetables and even organic sprouts can all become contaminated.
That makes it important to learn how to keep your food safe.
Although many things are being done to reduce contamination before food gets to us, it is just as important to prepare, cook and store food properly so that our kids don’t get sick.
Food Safety Numbers
There are some numbers related to food safety that you might be all too familiar with – about 48 million people get sick from food poisoning each year, sending 100,000 people to the hospital, and causing about 3,000 deaths
Reducing food poisoning is a “winnable battle” though, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But of course, safe food doesn’t just happen. It takes a little work, starting with understanding some of the other numbers associated with food safety, such as:
- 4 – the number of steps to proper food safety – clean, separate, cook, chill
- 0˚F – the temperature to set your freezer (0˚F or below)
- 40˚F – the temperature to set your refrigerator (between 40˚F and 32˚F)
- 140˚F – the temperature you should keep food after cooking
- 145˚F – the minimum internal temperature to cook pork, fresh ham, steaks, roasts, chops and other whole meats (cook to the right temperature)
- 160˚F – the minimum internal temperature to cook egg dishes and ground meat (cook to the right temperature)
- 165˚F – the minimum internal temperature to cook poultry and reheat leftovers (cook to the right temperature)
- 3 minutes – the amount of “rest time” you should wait to make sure harmful germs are killed after cooking food, which is especially important after cooking steaks, roasts, chops, fresh pork and fresh ham. Don’t just heat and eat your food.
- 2 hours – the maximum about of time that perishable food should be left out before you put it in the refrigerator
- 90˚F – the outside temperature that should alert you that you need to refrigerate perishable food after just one hour, instead of the usual two hours
- 20 seconds – how long you should wash your hands before, during and after preparing food and before eating.
- 4 hours – the amount of time that a refrigerator will usually keep food cold if the power goes out and the refrigerator door is not opened. After that time, throw out perishable food that has been above 40˚F for two hours or more.
- 3 to 4 days – how long most leftovers can be safely stored in the refrigerator
- 15 to 20 – the number of Salmonella cells in undercooked food that can cause food poisoning
- Less than 5 minutes – how long it takes to report a case of food poisoning to your local health department so that you can help to prevent a larger outbreak.
How can you tell the internal temperature of foods that you are cooking? Use a food thermometer, as you can’t tell when foods are safely cooked by simply looking at them.
And be on the alert for food recalls, to make sure that you don’t have contaminated foods in your home.
What To Know About Keeping Food Safe
Do all of these numbers sound too hard to do or keep up with, especially when you are trying to have fun at a cook out or family dinner?
Remember, it is better than the alternative, 2 to 10 days of vomiting and diarrhea because your family developed symptoms of food poisoning…
For More Information on Food Safety Numbers:
- Keep Food Safe
- Keep Food Safe by Events and Seasons
- Food Safety Recalls
- CDC – Food Safety
- Foodborne Outbreaks
- Food Safety Education
- Fight Bac! Partnership for Food Safety Education
- Dangerous Food Safety Mistakes
- Cook to the Right Temperature
- Report Food Poisoning
- Hand Washing: A Powerful Antidote to Illness
- Symptoms of Food Poisoning
Last Updated on November 23, 2016 by Vincent Iannelli, MD