Whether chicken or salad, food safety at home is key to avoiding illness

February 1, 2013 in Food Safety, Nutrition Topics in the News

Whether chicken or salad, food safety at home is key to avoiding illness

A new study analyzing outbreaks of foodborne illness has found contaminated salad greens make the most people sick, but contaminated poultry have resulted in the most deaths.

In light of this study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Home Food Safety program -- a collaboration between the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and ConAgra Foods -- encourages Americans, rather than avoid certain foods, to practice safe food handling at home instead.

"Safe food-handling procedures can help protect you from foodborne illnesses while still allowing you to enjoy these tasty and nutritious foods." says registered dietitian and Academy Spokesperson Rachel Begun.

One of the most important things you can do to stay healthy is to wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with soap and water, especially when it comes to the particularly nasty norovirus which accounted for 46 percent of the illnesses according to this study. While hand sanitizer is great to reduce the spread of some germs, research shows us that soap and water is best.

Practice the folowing tips to reduce the risk of food poisoning:


  • Properly wash all fresh fruits and vegetables, whether they have a peel or not, with cool tap water just before eating.
  • Cut away any damaged or bruised areas before preparing or eating. Remove and discard outer leaves of lettuce.
  • Dry produce with a clean cloth or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present.
  • Cut all fruits and vegetables on a separate cutting board from raw meats and fish. Color-coded cutting boards can help you remember which is which.
  • Cook raw sprouts, such as alfalfa and clover, to significantly reduce the risk of illness.

Meat and Poultry

  • When buying and handling meats, always look for the Safe Food Handling label on the package, and make sure the meat is tightly wrapped. At the grocery store, pick up the meat last and ask to have it bagged separately from other groceries to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Store meat in the coldest part of the refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees C) or below. Use fresh, raw chicken within one- to two days of purchase, meats within three to four days, and throw away ground meats, sausage and organ meats after two days. Cooked meats should be eaten or frozen within three to four days.
  • Wash hands thoroughly for 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat, and use a separate cutting board for raw meats and fish to avoid cross contamination.
  • Defrost meats in the refrigerator or in the microwave by using the defrost setting. Never defrost on the counter. Cook meat that has been thawed in the microwave immediately and do not re-freeze thawed meat.
  • Use a food thermometer to ensure meats are cooked to the safe minimum internal temperature. Find the correct temperature with the Is My Food Safe? app or the Safe Grilling Guide. Click here for a safe temperature chart.

Learn more about food safety at www.HomeFoodSafety.org or www.canfightbac.org

Download the free Is My Food Safe? app (www.homefoodsafety.org/app).

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.