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Consumer Food Safety

The food supply in the United States is among the safest in the world. However, when certain disease-causing bacteria or pathogens contaminate food, they can cause foodborne illness, often called “food poisoning.” The CDC estimates that each year roughly 1 out of 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases.
 

Everyone is at risk, although most healthy people will recover from a foodborne illness within a short period of time, some can develop chronic, severe, or even life-threatening health problems. In addition, some people are at a higher risk for developing foodborne illness, including pregnant women, children under 5, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems (such as transplant patients and individuals with HIV/AIDS, cancer, or diabetes). People at a higher risk for foodborne illness should take extra precautions. For more information on this,

select the high-risk population above you are interested in learning more about.  

The first step to protect you and your loved ones against foodborne illness is education. An informed consumer is a safe consumer.

Know what you are consuming

Know what you are consuming

NCHD inspects all retail food establishments in Logan, Morgan, Sedgwick, Phillips, Yuma, and Washington counties and provides Restaurant Inspection Reports for public access. To look up any inspection report click the button below for the definitions and reports. If you have a food safety concern about an establishment, a complaint can be submitted to NCHD using the form in the link below.

Keep yourself informed of current recalls. All recalls are posted on the FDA webpage Recalls, Market Withdrawals, & Safety Alerts.

Know the symptoms

Know the symptoms of foodborne illness

Consuming dangerous foodborne bacteria will usually cause illness within 1 to 3 days of eating the contaminated food. However, sickness can also occur within 20 minutes or up to 6 weeks later! Symptoms of foodborne illness can include vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain – and flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, and body ache. Additional information can be found on the CDC webpage About Food Safety.

Safe home preparation

Safe Home Preparation

There are three main things to keep in mind while preparing food: cleaning, cross contamination, and temperature (both for cooking and storage). At the bottom of this page several food safety handouts are available for download. Additional food safety information can be found on the CDC webpage Four Steps to Food Safety.

Clean

  • Wash hands and surfaces often.

  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap and vigorously rub them together for at least 20 seconds and dry with a clean towel before handling any food or anytime contamination may occur (i.e., after handling raw meat, phones, pets, changing diapers, using the bathroom, etc.).

  • Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item.

  • Consider using paper towels to clean up kitchen surfaces. If you use cloth towels, launder them often in the hot cycle.

  • Do not wash meat, poultry, fish, or eggs. If water splashes from the sink in the process of washing, it can spread bacteria.

  • Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten. Scrub firm produce with a clean produce brush.

  • With canned goods, remember to clean lids before opening.

Cross Contamination

  • Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from other foods in your grocery shopping cart, grocery bags, and refrigerator.

  • Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.

  • Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs unless the plate has been washed in hot, soapy water.

  • Wash your hands and surfaces after handling raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs.

  • Keep chemicals separate from food and food contact surfaces.

  • Do not reuse marinades used on raw foods unless you bring them to a boil first.

  • Use a special cutting board or plate for raw foods only.

Temperature

Temperature abuse is the NUMBER ONE reason for food borne illness. Any type of food can host contaminants, but some foods are better than others for the growth of pathogens. Foods that need time and temperature control for safety—known as TCS foods—include milk and dairy products, eggs, meat (beef, pork, and lamb), poultry, fish, shellfish and crustaceans, baked potatoes, tofu or other soy protein, sprouts and sprout seeds, sliced melons, cut tomatoes, cut leafy greens, untreated garlic-and-oil mixtures, and cooked rice, beans, and vegetables.

To prevent foodborne illness, keep these foods out of the temperature DANGER ZONE (41◦F-135◦F). The temperature danger zone is where pathogens grow the fastest.

Reusable Grocery Bags
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Cooking

Color and texture are unreliable indicators of safety. Using a food thermometer is the only way to ensure the safety of meat, poultry, seafood, and egg products for all cooking methods. These foods must be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy any harmful bacteria.

Cook to safe temperatures:

  • Beef, Pork, Lamb 145°F

  • Fish 145°F

  • Ground Beef, Pork, Lamb 160°F

  • Turkey, Chicken, Duck 165°F

Reheating

  • When cooking in a microwave oven, cover food, stir, and rotate for even cooking. If there is no turntable, rotate the dish by hand once or twice during cooking. Always allow standing time, which completes the cooking, before checking the internal temperature with a food thermometer.

  • Bring sauces, soups and gravy to a boil when reheating.

 

Thawing

TCS food can be thawed one of four ways; Never thaw food at room temperature, such as on the countertop:

  • Refrigeration — thaw at a temperature of 41°F or lower.

  • Running Water — submerge food under running water at 70°F or lower.

  • Microwaving — only to be used if food will be cooked immediately after thawing.

  • Cooking — include thawing in the cooking process.

Cooling

Food must pass through the temperature danger zone quickly to reduce the growth of pathogens.

2-Hour Rule: Put foods in the fridge or freezer within 2 hours after cooking or buying from the store. Do this within 1 hour if it is 90 degrees or hotter outside.

Methods for cooling foods include:

  • Ice-water bath

  • Ice paddle

  • Using cold water as an ingredient (soups, stews, etc.)

The most effective way to cool food is to reduce its size. This involves dividing large containers of food into smaller containers or shallow pans.

 

Hot/Cold Holding

  • Cold foods must be maintained at 41°F or less.

  • Hot food must be maintained at 135°F or above.

Holiday Food Safety

Holiday & Special Event Food Safety

Holidays involve gathering family, preparing food, and enjoying festive meals together. But those activities can bring unwanted guests - foodborne illnesses. Keep those uninvited guests out by following these holiday food safety tips!
Disaster or Emergency

Food Safety in a Disaster or Emergency

Emergencies can happen, especially during extreme weather conditions. The best strategy is to have a plan in place before it happens. This includes knowing the proper food safety precautions to take before, during, and after a power outage or weather emergency. The following links will help you prepare and guide you through the process of staying safe.

If you'd like more information on consumer food safety, please contact our Environmental Health Manager:

Melvin Bustos
(970) 867-4918 x2262
melb@nchd.org 

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