To avoid foodborne illness, the U.S. Department of Agriculture offers these four tips:
1) Clean hands with soap and warm running water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food. Rinse fruits and vegetables under cool running water to remove harmful bacteria. Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and countertops with hot, soapy water and rinse after preparing each food item and before going to the next one.
2) Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood and their juices from other food items in the grocery cart or kitchen. Use one cutting board for raw meat, poultry and seafood and another for salads and ready-to-eat food. Wash boards well between uses. Store raw meat, poultry and seafood in a sealed container or plate on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator and below ready-to-eat food. This will prevent cross contamination or the spread of bacteria from one food to another.
3) Use a food thermometer to make sure food is cooked completely. Beef and pork should reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit for medium. Chicken should reach at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
4) Chill leftovers and takeout foods within two hours. Freeze leftovers that will not be used within thee-four days for longer storage. Keep the refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below and the freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Thaw meat, poultry and seafood in the refrigerator, not on the counter. Marinate foods in the refrigerator, too.
Source: College of Family and Consumer Sciences, www.befoodsafe.gov.