How To Avoid Food Poisoning : Ask A Nutritionist September 8, 2020

One in six Americans will get sick from food poisoning this year. That’s why food safety is so important for you and your family. Many of us are doing more cooking at home now. Remember these four steps to help your family stay safe from food poisoning at home: Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill.


-Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Wash before, during and after preparing food, and after handling raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs. Always wash after using the toilet or blowing your nose and sneezing.

-Wash all surfaces and utensils after each use.

-Wash all fruits and vegetables, including ones you will be peeling or cutting skin.

-Do not wash meat, poultry, or eggs. Washing these foods can spread any contamination on the food.


-When shopping, separate raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs from other foods and place in plastic bags.

-At home, place raw meat, poultry and seafood in containers or sealed plastic bags. Freeze them if you are not planning to use within a few days.

-Keep eggs in their original carton and in the main refrigerator compartment-not in the door.

-Use one cutting board when preparing produce. Use another cutting board for raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. Wash them thoroughly before using them again with hot, soapy water.

-Use separate plates and utensils for cooked and raw foods.

-Wash thoroughly all plates, utensils, cutting boards and anything else that touched raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs before using again in hot, soapy water.


-Use a food thermometer to make sure food is cooked properly.

-Refer to the Minimum Cooking Temperature Chart to be sure that the cooked food has reached a safe temperature.

-If you are not serving food right away, keep it hot.  Use a heat source like a slow cooker or warming tray to keep the food at a safe temperature-above 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

-When microwaving food, be sure to read the directions on the package to make sure food is cooked thoroughly

-Your refrigerator should be set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Your freezer should be set at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below.

-Never leave perishable food out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours.  If you are outside and it is above 90 degrees, refrigerate it within 1 hour.

-Always refrigerate leftovers promptly in a shallow dish so it can cool quickly.

-Never thaw or marinate foods on the counter. Use the refrigerator.

-Check the Safe Storage Times Chart to learn how long to keep food or throw out food for safety.


Joanne M. Gallivan, M.S., R.D.N. is a registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She served as the Director of the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) in the Office of Communication and Public Liaison for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from 1997-2016.  Previously, Ms. Gallivan has served as project manager for NIDDK’s Weight-Control Information Network (WIN), a national source of information on weight control, obesity, and weight-related nutritional disorders for health professionals and the public; as Contract Manager for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s National Cholesterol Education Program and Obesity Education Initiative, and as Director of the Prince George’s County Health Department Nutrition Division located in Maryland.

Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic is a free clinic in Charleston, SC, that provides free medical care to eligible patients, just like any family practitioner or internist. The Free Clinic serves uninsured adults living at or below 299 % of the Federal poverty level who live or work on Johns, James, & Wadmalaw Island or Folly Beach, or serve the Hospitality Industry of Downtown Charleston. You can follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

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