(Safety, Training, Resources, and Education to Combat Hunger)
Food Safety Information Sheet No. 8
Keep It Apart!
Raw foods, particularly meats, poultry, and fish, are often contaminated with microorganisms.
If ready-to-eat foods come in contact with raw foods, or the juice from raw foods,
they can become contaminated with disease-causing microorganisms. Microorganisms
can also be transfered from one food to another by hands, utensils, or equipment.
This transfer of microorganisms is called cross-contamination. To avoid potential
cross-contamination during food preparation it is very important to keep everything
clean and to keep cooked and raw foods separate. Remember to:
Keep It Safe
- Store raw meat and poultry below ready-to-eat foods to avoid contamination from
dripping juices. When storing or thawing raw meat, you may wish to place it on a
tray or plate to contain any juice that drips.
- Use separate cutting boards for raw and ready-to-eat foods, or wash and sanitize
cutting boards between foods.
- Never place cooked food back on the plate that held the raw food, unless it is washed
and sanitized first.
- Thoroughly wash your hands each time you work with a different food.
Harmful microorganisms can hitch a ride from one food to another on contaminated
hands, utensils, or equipment. These nasty fellows can also get from one food to
another by direct contact between foods or in juice that drips from one food onto
another. Since raw foods contain an abundance of microorganisms that can cause food
poisoning, think of raw foods as the enemy and you as the vigilante. The way you
handle these raw foods will determine the safety of the final product -- the meal
you serve your guests. An easy way to avoid cross-contamination when slicing, chopping
or cutting food is to:
- Keep one cutting board for raw meat and a different one for cooked meat and vegetables
- If you only have one cutting board available, thoroughly wash and sanitize the board
between each food item.
- Use hot soapy water
- Use a brush or cloth to remove soil
- Rinse in clean water
- Air dry
Keep It Clean!
- Use a solution of 1/4 cup bleach to 4 gallons of warm water
- Soak for 1 minute
- Air dry
Fresh produce, like fruits and vegetables, can have surface dirt, bacteria, and
pesticide residues on them. To remove these contaminants, wash all fresh produce
before serving. To clean fruits and vegetables:
- use clean running water
- rub with a vegetable brush
- air dry
Do not use detergents, soaps, or disinfectants! These products are unnecessary and
may be harmful.
Cook It Well!
Your best friend when you cook meat is a meat thermometer. Proper cooking will kill
the bacteria present in meat and your thermometer will show you when the internal
temperature has reached the safe zone. Check the following chart for correct cooking
temperatures for meat. Be sure to insert the tip of the meat thermometer into the
thickest part of the meat, avoiding fat, bone, or gristle. For poultry, insert the
tip into the thick part of the thigh next to the body.
Cooking Temperatures for Meat
Type of Meat
Internal Temperature (oF)
Veal, beef, lamb, pork
Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb & Pork
Turkey Breasts, Roasts
Cook until juice runs clear
Fresh (fully cooked)
Cook meat completely without interruption. Partial or interrupted cooking often produces conditions that can encourage bacterial growth. Also, be sure the cooking temperatures in a conventional oven is at least 325 °F.