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Guest Post: National Food Safety Month

By Patsy Watkins MPS, CFCS
Family & Consumer Sciences Agent, UT/TSU Extension, Williamson County

Did you know? Food poisoning not only sends more than 100,000 Americans to the hospital each year, but it can also have long-term health consequences. Follow these 4 steps to keep your family safe from food poisoning at home.


  • Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water.
  • Wash surfaces, cutting boards, dishes, and cooking utensils with hot soapy water after each use to prevent bacteria from spreading.
  • Wash produce under running water, but not meat, poultry, or eggs.


  • Don’t cross-contaminate! Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from other foods in the grocery cart, grocery bags and in your refrigerator.
  • Use separate cutting boards/plates/utensils for produce and raw meat.



  • Cook to the right temperature. Use a food thermometer.
  • Keep food hot after cooking (at 140oF or above). Bacterial growth increases as food cools.
  • Microwave food thoroughly (to 165oF).


  • Refrigerate perishable foods at or below 40oF within 2 hours, or 1 hour if in weather over 90oF
  • Never thaw or marinate foods on the counter. Bacteria grows rapidly.
  • ¬†Know when to throw food out. Be sure to toss expired foods.


Food Safety myths

Myth #1:
When cleaning my kitchen, the more bleach I use, the better. More bleach kills more bacteria
There is no advantage to using more bleach than needed. Use 1 teaspoon of bleach to 1 quart of water.

Myth #2:
I don’t need to wash fruits and vegetables if I’m going to peel them.
You can transfer bacteria from the peel or rind you’re cutting to the inside of your fruits and veggies.

Myth #3:
Leftovers are safe to eat until they smell bad.
The kind of bacteria that cause food poisoning do not affect the look, smell, or taste of food.

Myth #4:
Cross- contamination doesn’t happen in the refrigerator – it’s too cold for bacteria to survive!
Bacteria can survive and some can grow in cool, moist environments like the refrigerator.


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