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Follow these safety tips for handling poultry, meats, eggs, and fresh fruits and vegetables, and you're on your way to safer home cooking!

Chicken, Meats, Eggs, Fruits & Vegetables

Follow these safety tips for handling poultry, meats, eggs, and fresh fruits and vegetables, and you're on your way to safer home cooking! But first, check out the guidelines below for general safety information:

  1. General Food Safety Rules
  2. Chicken Safety
  3. Meat Safety
  4. Egg Safety
  5. Fresh Fruits & Vegetables

General Food Safety Rules

  • Place poultry, meats and eggs in your grocery cart last to prevent them from warming up as you shop.
  • Separate packages of raw poultry and meats from other foods in your cart to prevent contamination from any leaking juices.
  • Return home promptly after grocery shopping and refrigerate or freeze immediately.
  • Store in the coldest part of the refrigerator -- on an inside shelf rather than in the door. This applies to eggs, too. Store them in their carton on a shelf rather than in the built-in egg cups inside many refrigerator doors.
  • Wash hands, cutting boards, knives and any other utensils immediately in hot soapy water after contact with raw poultry, meats and eggs.
  • After wiping up raw poultry or meat juices and eggs from the countertop with a sponge, sanitize the sponge by soaking it in a dilute bleach/water solution before wiping any other surfaces with it. Disinfect the countertop with the same solution.

Chicken Safety

There's no need to be chicken when it comes to cooking chicken and turkey! Raw poultry may contain naturally-occurring bacteria, but safe handling and proper cooking eliminate risks. Just follow these helpful tips:

  • Use fresh poultry within 1 to 2 days of purchasing.
  • When purchasing fully-cooked rotisserie or fast-food chicken, make sure it's piping hot, not warm. Use within 2 hours or cut into several pieces and refrigerate. Eat within 3 to 4 days.
  • Thaw frozen poultry on a bottom shelf in the refrigerator, not on the countertop. Boneless chicken breasts will usually thaw overnight. Bone-in parts and whole chickens may take 1 to 2 days longer. For whole turkeys, allow 1 day for every 5 pounds.
  • It's safest to cook stuffing separately from the chicken or turkey. If stuffing a whole bird, stuff it immediately before putting it in the oven. Never stuff a bird the night before cooking.
  • Cook whole birds until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 180°F. Another test for doneness is to insert a long-tined fork into the thickest part of the thigh. The meat should be tender and the juices should run clear, not pink.
  • Refrigerate or freeze leftovers within 2 hours.
  • Poultry may be marinated in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. After marinating, be sure to discard the marinade.

Meat Safety

Whether it's beef, pork, lamb or veal in the stew pot or roasting pan, meat requires careful handling in the kitchen. Raw meats may contain bacteria, but safe handling and proper cooking eliminate any risks. Just follow these helpful tips:

  • Use fresh, whole pieces of meat within 3 to 5 days of purchasing. Ground and organ meats should be used within 1 to 2 days.
  • When purchasing fully-cooked take-out meat dishes, such as ribs or fast-food hamburgers, make sure they are piping hot, not warm. Use within 2 hours or refrigerate in shallow containers. Eat within 3 to 4 days.
  • Thaw frozen meats on a bottom shelf in the refrigerator, not on the countertop. Ground or cubed meats will usually thaw in 1 day. Bone-in parts and whole roasts may take 2 days or longer.
  • Cook all ground meats until there is no longer any pink color or to a temperature of 160°F.
  • Cook whole steaks, roasts and chops as follows:

    Beef, Veal & Lamb: Depending on the cut, cook to an internal temperature range of 160°F (medium) to 170°F (well-done).
    Pork Cook to an internal temperature of 160°F.
  • Refrigerate or freeze leftovers within 2 hours.
  • Meat may be marinated in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. After marinating, be sure to discard the marinade.

Egg Safety

Eggs are used everywhere in cooking -- from desserts and casseroles to breads and sauces. That's why eggstra care must be taken when preparing foods with them. Raw eggs may contain naturally-occurring Salmonella bacteria, but safe handling and proper cooking eliminate any risks. Just follow these helpful tips:

  • Buy only refrigerated grade A or AA eggs with clean, uncracked shells. Discard any that may crack on the way home.
  • Do not leave raw or cooked eggs at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
  • When separating the yolks from the whites, use an egg separator. Passing the egg back and forth between the shell halves may expose the egg to bacteria on the shell.
  • Use a clean utensil to remove any bits of shell that fall into the eggs when cracking them open.
  • When adding eggs to a mixture, break them 1 at a time into a small cup or bowl first. If you detect an impurity, the egg can be discarded before it's added.
  • Cook basic egg dishes until the whites are set and the yolks thicken.
  • Cook scrambled eggs, omelets and frittatas until no visible liquid egg remains.
  • Cook other egg dishes, such as quiches and casseroles, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean (160°F).
  • Never prepare recipes where the eggs are not thoroughly cooked, such as homemade eggnog and ice cream, Caesar salad and Hollandaise sauce. Instead, use a pasteurized egg product.

Fresh Fruits & Vegetables

From field and orchard to supermarket shelves, fruits and vegetables are harvested, packed and quickly transported for maximum freshness. Select, store and handle fresh produce properly so that it not only looks and tastes delicious, but is also safe to eat. Just follow these helpful tips:

  • Select fresh-looking fruits and vegetables that are not bruised, shriveled, moldy or slimy. Be sure to inspect packaged produce carefully for signs of mold or slime.
  • Buy only the amount you need. Most fresh produce is not "stock-up" food and should be used within a few days.
  • Place fresh produce on the top of the groceries in your cart to prevent bruising.
  • Thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables in clean drinking water just before eating or cutting. This applies to all fresh produce, even if the rind or skin will not be eaten, as with melons or oranges. This prevents any bacteria on the surface from transferring to the inside flesh when cut.
  • Scrub hearty vegetables, such as potatoes and carrots, with a stiff brush under running water if you want to eat the skin.
  • Purchase pasteurized juices and ciders. Unpasteurized juices may contain bacteria. Check the label and look for the word, "pasteurized."
  • Keep all cut fruit and vegetables covered in the refrigerator.
  • Discard any fresh produce that has been stored too long and has developed mold, slime or an off odor.
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