Preventing Illness and Promoting Wellness for Communities in Eastern Connecticut

  • Andover
  • Ashford
  • Bolton
  • Chaplin
  • Columbia
  • Coventry
  • Mansfield
  • Scotland
  • Tolland
  • Willington

Food Safety


When preparing food in your kitchen, for yourself, your family, or to bring to a pot-luck, it is important to remember basic food safety and handling techniques. Some guidelines for all budding and seasoned cooks to remember include: personal hygiene, cross-contamination prevention, and proper food temperatures for storing, cooking and holding foods.


Hygiene: Although personal hygiene issues might seem intuitive, many who are not regulars in the kitchen need some basic reminders. The first key to a safe meal is to make sure that everyone involved in preparation efforts washes their hands frequently and keeps their hands clean when in the kitchen. Washing hands in warm water with soap for 20 seconds (sing the ABC song twice), and drying with a paper towel that is thrown away is the most effective way to keep hands clean. Hands should be washed after (or before) each new food is prepared. Other personal hygiene tips include pulling hair back; not eating around the food preparation area; and taste testing cooked items with only a clean utensil (no finger licking or double-dipping!).


Cross-contamination: This occurs when bacteria from one raw ingredient comes in contact with a food that will not be cooked. A prime example when cooking a Thanksgiving dinner is when anything that touches the raw turkey (or ham, or beef) comes in contact with a salad, bread, fruit, or relish tray. Common offenders for transferring bacteria are knives, cutting boards, counters, and hands. The best ways to avoid cross-contamination are to keep raw meats and fresh produce or breads on separate counters in the kitchen as foods are being prepared, and to wash (with soap and water) all items that come into contact with raw meats as soon as they are used (counters, knives, cutting boards, hands, etc.).


Temperatures: A final tip for keeping your food safe is to be aware of the temperature ‘danger zone’ for potentially hazardous foods. The basic rule of thumb is to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Bacteria that can cause food borne illness grow quickly at temperatures between 40°F and 140°F. Keep this guideline in mind when thawing frozen meats (thaw only in the refrigerator), holding or serving food over an extended period of time (do not leave on the table or counter more than 2 hours), and when storing leftover foods (store in small batches that can cool quickly in the refrigerator).


More information about food safety:


FoodSafety: The Basics from



Partnership for Food Safety Education