ABILENE, TX - The United States Department of Agriculture's Office of Communications is reaching out to make food safety a priority with tips on how to clean, separate, cook and chill food.
Preparing the environment of where the cooking is taking place is crucial, starting with your hands and surfaces where food is prepared. It's important to also wash all fruits and vegetables before eating, cutting or cooking them.
Also, don't forget to clean lunch boxes and coolers before packing them. The USDA suggests cleaning lunch boxes thoroughly each night with warm soapy water.
Avoid cross contamination all together. Certain foods don't mix well after they touch such as raw meat, poultry or eggs shouldn't come in contact with fruits, vegetables or already prepared foods. Absolutely never put cooked food on a surface that once held raw food.
When it comes to actually cooking the meal, temperatures are important so harmful bacteria is destroyed. Beef, pork, lamb and veal, steaks, chops, roasts and fish should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 106 degrees Fahrenheit. Egg dishes should have this internal temperature as well. Meanwhile, all poultry should have an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
When packing leftovers, the USDA suggests always having two cold sources such as freezer packs or a frozen bottle of water or juice to help preserve the lunch. Packed lunches for school should stay in the fridge over night.
To be on the safe side, pack disposable wipes for children to clean their hands before eating. Sometimes a sink isn't available. It's also suggested for children to dispose of all food after their lunch and to clean the packages they came in quickly.
Consumers can learn key food safety practices at Foodsafety.gov.
Information provided by a USDA press release.
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