Burn Prevention Tips

You Can Prevent Food Poisoning


Food poisoning is a great master of disguise. You could be up half the night with a headache and nausea and think that you've caught the flu or a virus that's going around. However, a lot of people
who think they have the flu are really suffering from a mild case of food poisoning, caused by tiny living organisms called bacteria and viruses Foodborne illnesses affect millions of Americans each year. You can reduce your risk of getting food poisoning by following the guidelines in this booklet.

Precautions are especially needed when foods are served to people in high-risk categories who are particularly vulnerable to infections: the very young, the elderly, pregnant women (because of
risk to the fetus),i and people already seriously ill or whose im-mune systems are weakened. For these people, careful observance of all food handling guidelines is essential because foodborne
illnesses may be life-threatening.

Preventing food poisoning starts when you buy food at the supermarket. Keep food safety in mind as you store, prepare, cook, and serve food at home. Food poisoning prevention can be simplified
into three rules: keep food clean, cook food adequately, and keep hot food hot and cold food cold.

Most foodborne illnesses are caused by eating food that contains certain types of bacteria or viruses (germs). After the food is eaten, these living microorganisms continue to grow, causing an infection. Foods can also cause illness if they contain a toxin or poison produced by bacteria growing in the food.
Several different kinds of bacteria can cause food poisoning. Two similar groups of them, called Salmonella and Campylobacter, are normally found in warm-blooded animals such as cattle, poultry and swine. These bacteria may be present in raw meat, poultry, eggs, or unpasteurized dairy products. These same foods, as well as vegetables and other crops that come in contact with the soil (such as herbs), may also be the source of a bacteria called Clostridium
perfringens. Growth of this organism may occur when foods such as stews, soups, or gravies made with meat, fish, or poultry are stored improperly or left at room temperature for longer than 2-3 hours. Listeria, a newly recognized problem, is mainly associated with raw foods of animal origin. Staphylococcus or Staph organisms occur normally on human skin and in the nose and throat. These bacteria can be transmitted to food when handled. When perishable foods (such as custards or salads containing meat, poultry, or eggs) are kept under improper temperature conditions and Staph are present, the bacteria may grow to unsafe numbers and produce toxin.
Food poisoning will result.

Hepatitis A and some other viral diseases may be transmitted through foods. The virus is passed from the intestines of infected persons onto the hands of food handlers or into sewage. Any food
subject to fecal contamination may cause hepatitis A or other foodborne viral illnesses. Washing hands thoroughly after using the toilet and cooking shellfish and other foods which may have been exposed to sewage-contaminate water are essential measures to avoid transmission of viral diseases through food.

Botulism is a rare but deadly kind of food poisoning. The bacteria that cause it, Clostridium botulinum, are found naturally almost everywhere--including soil and water. They become dangerous when environmental conditions (low oxygen and low acid) allow them to
multiply and produce toxin. Low-acid foods (such as meat, fish, poultry, or vegetables) that are improperly canned may be breeding grounds for these bacteria. The toxin may also be produced in low-acid cooked foods left at room temperature too long such as baked potatoes or pot pies.


Bacteria are a natural part of the environment. Be careful to keep things clean--especially your hands. Keep pets out of areas where food is prepared. Also teach children to wash their hands before handling food. Discourage anyone with an infectious disease fromhandling, preparing, or serving food. When handling food:

  • Work with clean hands, clean hair, clean fingernails, and wear
    clean clothing.
  • Wash hands with soap and water after using the toilet, assisting
    anyone using the toilet, or changing diapers.
  • Wash hands with soap and water after smoking or blowing your
  • Wash hands with soap and water after touching raw meat, poultry,
    seafoods or eggs, before working with other food.
  • Avoid using hands to mix foods when clean utensils can be used.
  • Keep hands away from mouth, nose, and hair.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues and wash hands
    thoroughly afterward.
  • Avoid using the same spoon more than once for tasting food while
    preparing, cooking, or serving.
  • Thoroughly clean all dishes, utensils, and work surfaces with
    soap and water after each use. It is especially important to clean
    equipment and work surfaces that have been used for raw food (such
    as meat, poultry, or seafood) before you use them for cooked food.
    This prevents the cooked food from becoming contaminated with
    bacteria that may have been present in the raw food. Bacteria can
    be destroyed by rinsing utensils and work surfaces with a solution
    of 1 tablespoon (about 1 capful) of chlorine laundry bleach to 1
    gallon of cool water. Cutting boards, meat grinders, blenders, and
    meat slicers particularly need this treatment.


Bacteria such as Salmonella, Campylobactor and Listeria can live in the intestinal tracts of animals. Cooking animal products thoroughly will destroy these bacteria. It is risky to eat rare
meats or poultry, raw or lightly cooked fish and shellfish, raw milk, and foods made with raw or lightly cooked eggs.
Meat and poultry should be cooked to the temperatures listed in Table 1. Make sure that meat and poultry are cooked all the way through by using a meat thermometer. For whole poultry, insert the tip of the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh next to the body, or cook until the juices run clear when the bird is pricked with a fork.

Table 1. Cooking Meat and Poultry

Meat and poultry cooked throughout to these temperatures are
generally safe to eat and have the flavor, appearance, and texture
associated with these foods.

Fresh Beef                          Fahrenheit
Medium                                160
Well-done                             170
Ground beef                          170

Fresh Veal                            170

Fresh Lamb
Medium                                170
Well-done                             180

Chicken                             180-185
Turkey                               180-185
Boneless turkey roasts      170-175
(inside or outside the bird)        165

Rare beef is popular, but since it is cooked to only 140F, some food-poisoning organisms may survive.
Game meat frequently has a high bacterial content because it has been handled in less sanitary conditions than domestic meat. Cook all game meat to at least 160F (medium doneness) to kill any food-poisoning bacteria that may be in the meat.

Raw fish may also contain parasites which can cause human illness. Cook fish until it flakes and loses its translucent (raw) ap-pearance (140F).

Food Poisoning Chart

Salmonellosis and Campylobacterosis

     Salmonella and Campylobacter. Bacteria widespread in nature;
     live and grow in intestinal tracts of humans and animals.

     Poultry, red meat, eggs, and dairy products.

     Eating contaminated food, or contact with infected persons or
     carriers of the infection. Also transmitted by insects,
     rodents, and pets.

     Severe headache, followed by vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal
     cramps, and fever. Infants, elderly people, persons with low
     resistance are most susceptible. Severe infections cause high
     fever and may even cause death.

     Usually within 12-36 hours.

     2-7 days.

     Cook foods thoroughly. The bacteria are destroyed by heating
     the food to 140F for 10 minutes or to higher temperatures for
     less time--for instance, 155 for a few seconds.

     Chill foods rapidly in small quantities. Refrigerate at 40 F.

     Wash hands, work surfaces and equipment after touching raw
     meat or poultry.

Perfringens Poisoning

     Clostridium perfringens. Spore-forming bacteria that grow in
     the absence of oxygen. Temperatures reached in thorough
     cooking of most foods are sufficient to destroy vegetative
     cells, but heat-resistant spores can survive.

     Cooked meat and poultry, stews, soups, gravies left at
     60-125F several hours or cooled slowly.

     Eating food contaminated with large numbers of the bacteria.

     Diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and flatulence.

     Usually within 8-20 hours.

     May persist for 24 hours.

     Cool food rapidly and refrigerate promptly at 40F or below,
     or hold above 140F to prevent growth of surviving bacteria in
     cooked meats, gravies, and meat casseroles to be eaten later.

     Reheat leftover foods to 165F.

Staphylococcal Poisoning

     Staphylococcus aureus. Bacteria growing in food produce a
     toxin that is extremely resistant to heat.

     Custards, egg salad, potato salad, chicken salad, macaroni
     salad, ham, salami, cheese, cooked poultry, and dressing .

     Eating food containing the toxin. Food handlers can carry the
     bacteria in infected cuts and wounds.

     Vomiting, diarrhea, prostration, abdominal cramps, retching,
     weakness. Onset usually sudden.

     Usually within 2-8 hours.

     1-2 days.

     Growth of bacteria that produce toxin is stopped by keeping
     hot foods above 140F and cold foods at or below 40F. Chill
     food rapidly in small quantities.

     Once the toxin is formed, it is not easily destroyed by heat.
     Mishandled foods cannot be made safe by reheating .


     Clostridium botulinum. Spore-forming organisms that grow and
     produce toxin in the absence of oxygen, such as in a sealed
     container or below the surface of food.

     Improperly canned low-acid food (vegetables, fish, meat,
     poultry), smoked fish, and improperly handled low-acid cooked

     Eating food containing the toxin.

     Headache, double vision, inability to swallow, speech
     difficulty, and progressive respiratory paralysis. Fatality
     rate is about 20%.

     Usually 12-36 hours or longer.

     Recovery is prolonged.

     Follow reliable instructions for time and temperature for home
     canning low-acid vegetables, meat, fish, and poultry.
     Bacterial spores in these foods are destroyed only by high
     temperatures obtained in the pressure canner.

     Toxin is destroyed by boiling 10 minutes or heating in the
     oven to 185 F.

     Refrigerate cooked low-acid foods promptly.


     Listeria monocytogenes. Bacteria widespread in nature that can
     live in soil as well as intestinal tracts of humans and

     Raw milk, unripened and other soft cheese, undercooked meat
     and poultry.

     Eating food contaminated with the bacteria.

     Headache, fever, and nausea. Can lead to meningitis. Can
     result in miscarriage or stillbirth. Pregnant women, infants,
     and persons with low resistance to infections (such as cancer
     patients) are most susceptible. Can result in death unless
     there is antibiotic therapy.

     Usually within 24 hours but can occur up to 12 days after

     2-7 days.

     Cook foods of animal origin thoroughly. Buy pasteurized milk.
     Prevent recontamination of cooked foods by cleaning hands,
     surfaces, and equipment that come into contact with raw animal
     foods. Do not use animal manure or sewage sludge in your
     vegetable garden.


     Vibrio parahaemolyticus. Bacteria common in seawater. Other
     Vibrio species found in seawater (including Vibrio cholera)
     also cause foodborne disease.

     Raw seafood such as oysters, shrimp, crabs, and clams.

     Eating seafood contaminated with large numbers of bacteria.

     Diarrhea, cramps, weakness, nausea, chills, and headache.

     3-76 hours (an average of 17 hours).

     1-8 days.

     Keep raw and cooked seafood refrigerated. Cook seafood
     thoroughly. Prevent cross-contamination between raw and cooked

Like other living things, bacteria need food, warmth, moisture, and time to grow and multiply. In order to prevent bacteria from growing, keep hot foods HOT (above 140F) and cold foods COLD
(below 40F). Food may be unsafe if held for more than 2-3 hours at 60-125F, the zone where bacteria grow rapidly. Remember to include all time involved during preparation, storage, and serving. For example, holding foods for several hours in an automatic oven prior to cooking is not safe if the food is in the temperature zone of 60-125F for more than 2 or 3 hours. Table 2 summarizes the temperatures needed to control the growth of bacteria in foods.

Temperature of food for control of bacteria
Take care with perishable foods before you get them home, also. When shopping, pick up the perishables as your last stop in the grocery, and--especially in hot weather --get them home and into the refrigerator quickly. Don't leave them in the car while you run other errands. If you live more than 30 miles from the store, consider using an ice chest for the trip home.
The colder food is kept, the less chance bacteria have to grow. Use a thermometer to make sure your refrigerator is giving you good protection against bacterial growth. The refrigerator should
register 40F or lower.
In most cases, prompt cooling and proper refrigeration of foods can hold the number of bacteria to a safe level. Hot foods may be refrigerated promptly if they do not raise the temperature of the
refrigerator. Keep them in the refrigerator until served or reheated. Speed the cooling of large quantities by refrigerating in shallow containers. If this is not possible, put the container of
food into cold water. Stir and replace the cold water frequently over a 30-minute period. Then refrigerate.



Keep eggs clean and cold. Refrigerate them promptly. Leftover egg yolks or whites should be refrigerated in a covered container. Always store foods containing eggs in the refrigerator. Refrigerate hard-cooked eggs after preparation. If you hide hard-cooked eggs for an Easter egg hunt, do not leave them out of the refrigerator  longer than 2-3 hours if you plan to eat the eggs.
New research suggests that if you are in a high-risk group you should avoid eating raw eggs and foods containing raw eggs because Salmonella could be present. Cook eggs thoroughly until both the yolk and white are firm, not runny, in order to kill any bacteria that may be present. If you choose to prepare dishes with raw or lightly cooked eggs, use only fresh, clean, unbroken, odorfree eggs. Recipes in which eggs are not thoroughly cooked include homemade egg-milk drinks, soft-cooked eggs, poached eggs, scrambled eggs, omelets, uncooked salad dressings, homemade ice cream, mer- ingues, soft custards, and puddings cooked on the top of the range.
Cool hot foods containing eggs if they are not to be served hot. Set large batches of puddings in ice water to speed cooling. Then refrigerate promptly until time to serve.
Refrigerate cream, custard, or meringue pies and foods with custard fillings, including cakes, cream puffs, or eclairs. Do not allow them to stand at room temperatures. If you carry foods of this type on summer outings, keep them in a cooler with ice or reusable cold packs until served. Follow the same precaution for salads that contain eggs.


One safe way to thaw frozen meat or poultry is to take it out of the freezer and leave it overnight in the refrigerator. Normally, it will be ready to use the next day.
For faster thawing, put the frozen package in a watertight plastic bag under cold water. Change the water often. The cold water temperature slows bacterial growth in the outer, thawed portions of the meat while the inner areas are still thawing.
You can safely thaw meat and poultry in a microwave oven. Follow the manufacturer's directions.

Caution: It's not a good idea to thaw meat and poultry on the kitchen counter. Bacteria can multiply rapidly at room temperature.

You can cook frozen meat, poultry, or fish without thawing, but you must allow more cooking time to be sure the center of the meat is properly cooked. Allow at least one and a half times as long to cook as required for unfrozen or thawed products of the same weight and shape. Undercooked foods may not be safe to eat.
Store fresh or thawed raw meat, poultry, and seafood in the refrigerator. Be very careful that drippings do not contaminate other foods. Put a tray or pan under refrigerated meats, fish and
poultry to prevent the juices from dripping onto foods on lower racks.
If possible, have two cutting boards, one for raw meat, fish and poultry and the other for cooked foods and salads. A hard nonporous cutting board (such as acrylic) is better than a wooden cutting board for preventing the spread of bacteria.
Thoroughly wash the cutting board, knives, countertop, and sink after they have been used to prepare raw meat, fish and poultry in order to keep bacteria from spreading from raw to cooked foods and salads. Finish by rinsing with a dilute bleach solution.
Cook meat, poultry and seafood adequately. Do not partially cook meat or poultry one day and complete the cooking the next day.
Keep cooked meat, fish, or poultry hot (above 140F) until served, or cool and hold below 40F to prevent the growth of bacteria or the production of toxins. Promptly refrigerate cooked meat and fish that will be eaten cold or eaten after reheating.
Freeze cooked meat, poultry, stuffing, and gravy if you want to keep them longer than a few days. Store frozen cooked meat or poultry products in a freezer until they are reheated for serving
or thawed for immediate use. Directions on the packages of commercially prepared and partially prepared frozen foods must be followed exactly. Heating for the specified time assures that the
food will be safe to eat.
Hamburger. Ground meat must be handled carefully and cooked until it is at least brownish-pink in the center. Never serve it raw. Ground meat requires special care because bacteria on the surface are spread throughout the meat during grinding, making it spoil more rapidly than whole meats.

Hot dogs and lunch meats. These products should be stored in the refrigerator.
Stuffed meat or poultry. Stuff poultry, meat, or fish just before roasting. Put the stuffing in lightly--without packing--to allow heat to penetrate quickly throughout the stuffing. Make sure the
stuffing reaches a temperature of at least 165F. To check the temperature, insert a meat thermometer in the stuffing for about 5 minutes. Cook longer if necessary. You may prefer to bake thestuffing separately.

Microwaved poultry. Extra care must be taken when using a microwave oven to cook pork or poultry. Cooking in a microwave can cause "cold spots," areas that do not reach as high a temperature as other areas. Cold spots result from uneven distribution of microwaves, from uneven distribution of water and fat in chicken and from bones that "shade" other parts from microwaves in poultry.
Be sure that all parts of poultry are thoroughly cooked. Choose an appropriate size of bird or roast. The maximum size for a microwaved turkey is 12-14 pounds. Place the turkey in the
microwave oven and check it on all sides. There should be 3 inches of space between the turkey and oven walls, and at least 2 inches between the top of the oven and the upper side of the turkey.

Start with a bird roast that is the same temperature throughout so that it will cook more evenly. If pork or poultry have been defrosted in the microwave, allow a rest period of 20-30
minutes between defrosting and cooking to allow the temperature to equalize. Insert a skewer into the center to be certain the meat is completely thawed.
Cook poultry thoroughly. Rotate dishes so that cooking will be even. No pink color should be present in meat or juices after cooking. Make small cuts next to the bone and in the thickest
part of the meat to check. Let cooked  poultry stand covered for 15-20 minutes to complete cooking. The standing time equalizes the internal temperature.
If you use a temperature probe when microwaving a turkey, hot fat can run down the probe and turn the oven off before the turkey is done. Move the probe to another place and continue cooking. If you check the temperature with a conventional thermometer, allow at least 1 minute for an accurate reading.


Hot perishable foods need to be cooled quickly. Don't cool leftovers on the kitchen counter. Put them straight into the refrigerator or else cool them in a bowl surrounded by ice water,
then refrigerate.
Small portions of food cool more quickly to temperatures where bacteria quit growing. Divide large meat, macaroni, or potato salads and large bowls of mashed potatoes or dressing into smaller portions. Pour large pots of stew or soup into shallow containers, then put into the refrigerator.

Caution: Do not rely on reheating leftover food to make mishandled food safe. Staph bacteria produce a toxin that is not destroyed by heating!


Maintain strict sanitation when preparing any food for the home freezer. Keep all food to be frozen and everything it touches clean. Freezing does not kill the bacteria in food; it simply stops
their growth. They continue to multiply after the food is thawed.
Freeze only high-quality food. Handle foods to be frozen as little as possible to avoid spreading bacteria. Foods that have been frozen and thawed require the same care as foods that have not been frozen. You may safely refreeze frozen foods that have thawed if they still contain ice crystals or if they are still cold--about 40F. In general, if a food is safe to eat, it is safe to refreeze.
Thawed ground meat, poultry, or fish that have an off-odor or are off-color should not be refrozen and should not be eaten. If the odor or color of any food is poor or questionable, do not taste it.
Throw it out.


Commercially canned foods are considered safe because they are processed under carefully controlled conditions. However, if a commercially canned food shows any sign of spoilage--bulging can ends, leakage, spurting liquid, off-odor, or mold--do not use it.
Do not even taste it.
Can low-acid foods in a pressure canner. It is not safe to can vegetables, fish, meat, or poultry, or mixtures containing these foods in a boiling-water canner, an oven, a steamer without
pressure, or an open kettle because these methods do not get the food hot enough to kill the dangerous bacterial spores of Clostridium botulinum. There is no danger of botulism, however, if
low-acid foods are canned properly in a pressure canner. Be sure the pressure canner is working properly and that each step of the canning process--including time and temperature directions--is
followed exactly.
Tomatoes, pickled vegetables, and fruits can be processed safely in a boiling-water canner because they are more acid than other vegetables, meat, fish, and poultry. However, do not use overripe tomatoes for canning, since tomatoes lose acidity as they mature.

Test your food safety knowledge.

Which of the following statements are true, and which are false?

1. When people say they have the "2-hour flu," they may actually have a case of food poisoning.

2. Food-poisoning bacteria multiply rapidly at ordinary room  temperatures.

3. Hamburger is less likely to contain food-poisoning bacteria than most fresh meat and poultry because the grinding destroys bacteria.

4. Hard-cooked eggs can be safely stored at room temperature for up  to two days.

5. Since bacteria cannot be spread from your hands to food, it is safe to use your hands instead of a spoon to mix potato salad.

6. Extra care is needed if pork or poultry are cooked in a  microwave oven.

7. It is safe to eat raw or lightly cooked meat, fish, poultry, and  eggs.

8. Food poisoning can result from failing to properly clean your  hands, equipment and work surfaces.

Quiz answers:
1. True (see page 1)
2. True (see Table 2)
3. False (see page 7)
4. False (see page 3)
5. False (see pages 1 and 2)
6. True (see page 8)
7. False (see page 2)
8. True (see pages 2 and 7)

Burn Prevention Tips