Consumers play an important role in food safety, but are often unaware of the risks and health impacts associated with foodborne illness. In many cases, food safety education programs focus on providing consumers with accurate and actionable information but fall short in communicating the risks or motivating behavioral changes, a crucial factor in internalizing and transferring information.
Raising awareness and promoting food safety education are important objectives in combating foodborne disease, both nationally and globally. Be sure to follow these six safe food practices that can reduce (but not eliminate) the risk of foodborne illness:
1. Use safe water and safe raw materials
Know the source of your food and water. Avoid high-risk foods, like those associated with food recalls or posted outbreaks. Stay up to date on food issues, and remember the old adage: When in doubt, throw it out!
Wash all produce before preparation, but do not wash raw meat, poultry, or fish products. Clean and disinfect work surfaces and sink before and after food preparation. Wash hands frequently with running water and soap for at least 20 seconds and dry with paper towel.
Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs away from foods that will be eaten uncooked, like salads. Always use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw and ready-to-eat foods.
Cooking is the only way to kill pathogens in food. Use a digital meat thermometer and cook foods to the recommended temperatures.
Refrigerate raw and perishable food within 2 hours of shopping or serving. Keep a thermometer in the refrigerator. Temperature should read 40°F or below.
6. Report foodborne illness.
Seek medical attention if you are sick—especially if you have bloody diarrhea. Ask to be tested. If the test results are positive for foodborne illness, report it as soon as possible to the appropriate public health agencies.