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Food Safety

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Keep everyone healthy by focusing on food safety at home. By practicing good food safety, you reduce the risk of someone getting sick from food-borne illnesses.

Food Safety at Home

Storing Foods in the Refrigerator and Freezer

  • Have a thermometer in both the refrigerator and freezer to make sure they are keeping your food cold enough to stay safe! Refrigerators should have a temperature of 40 degrees F or less. In the freezer, keep the temperature at 0 degrees or less.
  • Store raw meats on the bottom shelf, and ready-to-eat items (such as salad greens, cheese, or fruit) above it. Storing raw meat below these other foods keeps bacteria in the meat from dripping onto other foods and drinks.
  • Store milk and other dairy products in the main part of the fridge, not the door. Many times the temperature in the door of the fridge is not cold enough for milk and other dairy products.
  • How long can foods and beverages, such as meats, eggs, and leftovers, be kept safely in the refrigerator or freezer before needing to toss them? We recommend taking a look at the guidelines from FoodSafety.gov!

Cooking at Home

  • Always wash your hands before you start cooking in the kitchen.
  • Wash fresh fruits and vegetables before you prepare and eat them.
  • Do not wash raw meats, such as chicken or turkey! Cooking meats hot enough will kill the bacteria and other germs that many think they are washing away. All that washing meats does is get germs in other parts of your kitchen.
  • When handling raw meats for cooking, make sure to wash your hands and any other surfaces after you are done with preparation. Use a different cutting board for raw meats than you use for fruits and vegetables. Use separate utensils and plates to remove cooked meats from the stove or grill, instead of the ones you used to transfer the raw meats.
  • Make sure to cook foods to correct temperatures to keep them safe for the family to eat! These temperatures are recommended to kill bacteria and other germs that may be in foods. For meats, poultry, and fish, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat to check the temperature.

 

Source: USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service

Food Safety at the Grill

Dealing with Leftovers

  • Using leftovers from other meals can be a great time and money saver to use at home!

  • Put leftovers in the refrigerator within 2 hours of serving to limit the growth of germs on the food. If you're outside and the temperature is over 90 degrees F, that window reduces to 1 hour!

  • Use leftover within 3-4 days of storing.

  • Cook leftovers to 165 degrees F before serving.

Lead and Nutrition

Dangers of Lead Poisoning

Lead poisoning occurs when there is too much lead in the body, which is very harmful to children under 6 years old and pregnant women. Even small amounts of lead can cause problems. People with lead poisoning may not act or look sick.

Lead Poisoning Can Lead To:

  • Stomachaches

  • Headaches

  • Lower Appetite

  • Hyperactivity and/or irritability

  • Sleeping Problems

  • Kidney Damage

  • Seizures

  • Coma

  • Death

Lead can be found in lead-based paint, dust, drinking water from lead water pipes, dirt, toys, and storing food in dishes that are lead-glazed. Homes built before 1978 may contain lead paint.

What to Do if You Think Your Home Has High Levels of Lead

Contact your health care provider or physician, your local health department, or the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Illinois Lead Program at 217-782-3517, 866-909-3572, or TTY 800-547-0466. They can give you information on getting your home tested for lead and removing lead safely. Your health care provider or physician can talk with you about blood tests for lead.

How a Healthy Diet Can Reduce Your Risk

Eating healthy foods more often can be helpful. Children with full stomachs absorb less lead into their bodies than children with empty stomachs. Foods rich in calcium, iron, and vitamin C may help reduce lead in the body. Calcium and iron help block lead from being absorbed by the body. Vitamin C can help the body absorb iron better when eaten together (for example, drinking a glass of orange juice at breakfast when also eating an iron-fortified cereal).

  • Sources of Calcium: Low-fat milk and dairy products such as yogurt and cheese, dark leafy greens such as spinach, and calcium-fortified orange juice.

  • Sources of Iron: Red meat, poultry, fish, beans, iron-fortified cereals and breads, nuts, and peanut butter.

  • Sources of Vitamin C: Oranges, green and red bell peppers, tomatoes, and fortified juices.

Additional Food Safety Resources We Recommend