How Consumers Can Keep Food Safe Aug 29, 2005 WASHINGTON, DC — August 29, 2005 — In recognition of National Food Safety Education Month this September, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) reminds consumers of many easy ways to prevent foodborne illnesses:ShoppingShop for shelf-stable items such as canned and dry goods first. Do not purchase canned goods that are bulging, leaking or dented.Select refrigerated and frozen foods and hot deli items last — right before checkout.Separate raw meat, poultry and seafood from other foods in your shopping cart. Place leaking packages in plastic bags.Do not choose meat, fish, poultry or dairy products that feel warm to the touch or have a damaged or torn package.CleaningBefore preparing food, wash hands vigorously in warm water with soap for 20 seconds.Clean surfaces thoroughly with warm water and soap or a household cleaner.Wipe kitchen surfaces with paper towels that can be thrown away. If you use cloth towels, wash them afterwards in the hot cycle of the washing machine.CookingUse a food thermometer, which measures the internal temperature of cooked meat and poultry, to make sure that meat is cooked thoroughly. Ground beef should be cooked to at least 160oF, chicken breasts to 170oF, whole poultry to 180oF, and steaks to 145oF for medium rare and 160oF for medium.Cook fish until it is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.Heat leftovers thoroughly to at least 165oF.RefrigerationUse a refrigerator thermometer to ensure the temperature never exceeds 40oF. Do not pack the refrigerator. Cool air must circulate to keep food safe.Thaw food in the refrigerator. Never defrost food at room temperature. For quick thaw, submerge food in cold water in an airtight package or thaw in the microwave if you will be cooking the food immediately afterwards.Defrost beef, poultry, pork, fish and other meats on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator to prevent uncooked juices from dripping onto other raw foods.Refrigerate prepared foods, leftovers and restaurant “doggie bags” within two hours of purchase or use.PreparationNever place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw food, especially meat.Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry and seafood, if possible.Do not use sauce that is used to marinate raw meat, poultry or seafood on cooked foods, unless it is boiled before applying.More tips and information are available at www.fmi.org/consumer. “FMI is committed to initiatives focused on keeping our food supply safe, and consumer education is one of our top priorities,” said Jill Hollingsworth, DVM, FMI group vice president of food safety programs. “Consumers are the final link in the food safety chain, and they play an important role in preventing foodborne illnesses through easy activities that can be a part of their daily routines.” FMI provides numerous public food safety education resources. Some of the most effective programs were developed by a public-private partnership among industry, government and consumer groups known as the Partnership for Food Safety Education. The Partnership’s award-winning Fight BAC® campaign teaches the public basic measures to reduce foodborne illness and its Project Chill initiative urges consumers to place thermometers in their refrigerators to ensure the temperature does not exceed 40oF, the level necessary to prevent the spread of bacteria, particularly listeria. FMI was a founding member of the Partnership. In addition to consumer education, FMI and the supermarket industry are working to enhance food safety through comprehensive programs to ensure food is safe from the source, institute rigorous food safety practices in the store and train and educate food retail associates. The goals of these efforts are to protect the health and well-being of the consumer and make food safety management as effective and efficient as possible. Launched in 1985, National Food Safety Education Month is an annual observance designed to heighten public awareness of foodborne illness and safe food-handling practices.