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Food safety dos and don'ts

Here are some essential dos and don'ts to help minimize the incidence of food poisoning.

September 12, 2023

Food safety dos and don'ts

Americans enjoy one of the safest food supplies in the world thanks to long-standing regulations and oversight by federal and state agencies. Still, estimates show that one in six Americans suffer from a foodborne illness every year. 

Causes vary from improperly canned foods, to undercooked food and products contaminated with dangerous organisms. Fortunately, following some basic food safety tips from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) can help eliminate the possibility of food poisoning.

Tips to help minimize issues that cause food poisoning


  • Put your groceries into the fridge as soon as you get home
  • Set the fridge temperature to 40° F or lower, and the freezer to 0° F or lower
  • Store produce separately from meat, poultry and eggs in your fridge
  • Store eggs in the carton in the main part of your fridge — not in the door
  • Defrost foods in the refrigerator or cold water, or use the microwave
  • Cook defrosted foods immediately
  • Wash your hands in warm soapy water before you start cooking and after handling meat, poultry, seafood and eggs
  • Wash utensils used to handle uncooked meat, poultry, seafood, eggs or flour before using them on other products
  • Rinse your produce in cool clear water and dry with a paper towel or clean dish cloth (using a colander or salad spinner makes cleaning lettuces and greens easier)
  • Wipe your counters down after working with raw meat


  • Use eggs that have cracked shells
  • Buy meat, poultry or seafood that isn’t well wrapped or has a leaking package
  • Thaw seafood, poultry or meat on the counter
  • Wash foods with soap or detergents
  • Undercook meat, poultry or seafood
    • Here are safe cooking temps from the FDA:
      • Poultry: 165° F
      • Ground meat: 160° F
      • Fish and seafood: 145° F
      • Beef, lamb, pork, veal (roasts, steaks, chops): 145° F
  • Store meat, poultry, or seafood on upper shelves in the fridge where they can leak on other food
  • Let food sit out for more than two hours or one hour if the air temperature is higher than 90°

Guides from the FDA

Take a look at these handy, printable FDA guides on Food Safe Shopping and Storage and Food Safe Meal Prep.

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