Don't forget to put food safety on your back to school list

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Each year, 1 in 6 Americans get sick from eating contaminated food. You can take action to protect yourself and your loved ones from foodborne illness by keeping food safe. Here are four simple steps to food safety:

Step 1: CLEAN

Wash your hands and food preparation surfaces and utensils often. Germs can survive in many places around your kitchen, including your hands, utensils, cutting boards and grill. Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running water. Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with warm soapy water. Don't forget to wash out picnic baskets, coolers, lunch boxes and totes after each use.

Step 2: SEPARATE

Don't cross-contaminate. When shopping, pick up meat, poultry and seafood last, right before you checkout. Separate meat from other foods in your grocery bags and shopping cart. Put raw meat and poultry into individual plastic bags.

When preparing food keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from fresh fruit and vegetables. When preparing food use two cutting boards. Use one for preparing raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs and the other for preparing fruits and vegetables.

Step 3: COOK

Cook to the right temperature. Use a food thermometer to ensure that foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature, hot enough to kill harmful bacteria: ?

• 145F for whole beef, veal, and lamb, and fresh pork and ham (allowing the meat to cool for 3 minutes before carving or consuming), and for fin fish.

• 160F for ground beef, veal, pork and lamb, and for egg dishes.

• 165F for all poultry, including ground chicken and ground turkey, stuffing, leftovers and casseroles. After grilling, keep food at 140F or warmer until it's served.

Step 4: CHILL

Keep your refrigerator below 40F and refrigerate foods promptly. Bacteria grow on many foods within two hours unless you refrigerate them. During the summer heat, cut that time down to one hour.

Divide leftovers into small portions and place in covered, shallow containers and place in freezer or refrigerator.

When transporting food, keep temperature below 40F in an insulated cooler.Throw out perishable food that has been sitting at room temperature for more than two hours or one hour if it is 90F or warmer.

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