Food Handling Tips



  • Buy cold foods last, get it home fast.
  • Never choose packages that are torn or leaking.
  • Don’t buy foods past “sell-by” or expiration date.
  • Put raw meats and poultry into a plastic bag so meat juices won’t cross contaminate cooked foods or those eaten raw, such as vegetables or fruit.
  • Place refrigerated or frozen items in the shopping cart last, right before heading for the checkout counter.
  • When loading the car, keep perishable items inside the air-conditioned car, not in the trunk.


  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before preparing, serving and eating foods.
  • Clean all food preparation surfaces that will come into contact with food.
  • Sanitize cutting boards often in a solution of 1-teaspoon chlorine bleach in 1 quart of warm water.
  • Wash kitchen towels and cloths often in hot water in washing machine.
  • Wash fresh fruits and vegetables with plain water before eating or cooking.
  • Wash hands, utensils, plates, platters and countertops after contact with raw meat or poultry and before contact with the same food when cooked.
  • Keep dishwashing sponges and cloths clean.
  • Serve cooked products on clean plates, with clean utensils.
  • Discard all outdated, obviously spoiled, and possibly unsafe food.


  • Don’t cross-contaminate.
  • Do not let raw meat or poultry or their juices come in contact with other foods.
  • Thaw frozen meats or poultry in the refrigerator or in a microwave oven, not on the countertop.
  • Use different utensils and platters to prepare food for cooking and to serve food on after cooking.


  • Always marinate meat and poultry in a covered dish in the refrigerator, not on the counter.
  • If some of the marinade is to be used as a sauce on the cooked food, reserve a portion of the marinade that has not touched the meat.  Do not put raw meat and poultry in it.  Don’t reuse the marinade used on the meat or poultry unless it’s boiled, first to destroy any bacteria.
  • Never partially grill meat or poultry and finish cooking later.  Cook food completely to destroy harmful bacteria.


  • Never leave it out over 2 hours.
  • Keep hot foods hot, cold foods cold.
  • Carry perishable picnic food in a cooler with a cold pack or ice.  Set the cooler in the shade and open the lid as little as possible. Avoid opening the cooler lid, which lets cold air out and warm air in.
  • Pack beverages in one cooler and perishables in another cooler.
  • When taking food off the grill, don’t put the cooked items on the same platter that held the raw meat.  Any bacteria present in the raw meat juices could contaminate the safely cooked meat or other grilled foods.
  • When in doubt, throw it out.


  • Keep it safe, refrigerate.
  • Use cooked leftovers within 4 days.
  • Refrigerate all products marked “keep refrigerated”
  • Freeze all products with a “keep frozen” label.


  • Food handlers must not handle food if they have illnesses such as colds, diarrhea, flu, or Hepatitis A.  They should also not handle food if they have infected cuts, burns, or lesions on the hands or lower arms.
  • Wash hands with warm soapy water before and after handling food, and after any potential contamination such as using the toilet, smoking, blowing nose, sneezing, etc.
  • Food handlers must not eat, drink, or smoke while preparing foods.  Hands-mouth contact can transfer bacteria from the mouth to the hands and to the food, which may result in contamination and a foodborne illness.
  • Hands and utensils should not be wiped on aprons or clothes.
  • Avoid bare hand contact with ready to eat foods by using utensils, plastic gloves, deli paper, etc.  This does not eliminate the need for good hand washing practices.