Seemingly simple mistakes in the kitchen have been proven to cause serious illness. Here are some of the most common food safety mistakes to avoid.*
- Not washing your hands
Sixty-five percent of consumers don't wash their hands before starting meal preparation. You should wash your hands (for at least 20 seconds) with warm water and soap before and after handling food. Germs on your hands can contaminate the food you and your family eats.
- Eating raw cookie dough (or other foods with uncooked eggs)
Uncooked eggs can contain Salmonella or other harmful bacteria. It takes just 15 to 20 tiny cells in undercooked food to cause food poisoning.
- Undercooking meat, poultry, seafood or eggs
Food must be cooked to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria. Use a food thermometer to ensure food reaches a safe internal temperature. Check out Foodsafety.gov's helpful Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures Chart.
- Thawing food on the counter
Bacteria can multiply rapidly at room temperature. See Foodsafety.gov's tips here for thawing food safely.
- Washing raw meat, poultry or eggs
Doing this can spread bacteria onto your sink, countertops and other surfaces in your kitchen.
- Putting cooked meat, poultry or seafood back on a plate that held raw meat products
Germs from the raw meat can spread to the cooked meat. Always use separate plates for raw meat and cooked meat.
- Tasting food to see if it's still good
You can't taste, smell or see the bacteria that cause food poisoning, and tasting a tiny amount can cause illness.
- Letting food cool before putting it in the fridge
Illness-causing bacteria can grow in perishable foods within two hours unless you refrigerate them.
- Marinating meat or seafood on the counter
Harmful germs in meat or seafood can multiply extremely fast at room temperature. Always marinate meat or seafood in the refrigerator.
- Using raw meat marinade on cooked food
Germs from the raw meat or seafood can spread to the cooked food. You can reuse marinade only if you bring it to a boil just before using.