Welcome to the State of California 


Date: 12/14/2009 

Number: 09-117 

Contact: Al Lundeen - (916) 440-7259 


With the holiday season in full force, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is reminding Californians about the importance of safe food handling to prevent foodborne illness.

"Thorough cooking, adequate refrigeration, good hand washing and work area hygiene are the key food handling practices that can prevent foodborne illness," said Dr. Mark Horton, director of CDPH. "Properly prepared and handled foods will help ensure a safe meal not only during the holiday season, but every day of the year."

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths annually in the United States are related to foodborne diseases.  CDPH recommends the following food safety practices:

Keep hands and food contact surfaces clean:

·        Always wash your hands with warm, soapy water before and after handling raw foods.

·        Thoroughly clean all work surfaces, utensils and dishes with hot soapy water and rinse with hot water before and after each use.

Avoid cross contamination:

·        Always wash fruits and vegetables in clean sinks under running water and keep fruits and vegetables away from raw meats, poultry, eggs, fish and any other raw animal product.

·        When tasting food, ladle a small amount of it into a small dish and taste with a clean spoon. Remove the dish and spoon from the area and clean when finished.

Refrigerate foods:

·        Refrigerate or freeze meat, poultry and seafood promptly after purchase. Perishable items, such as eggs, fresh fruit juices and pre-packaged fruits and vegetables, including salad mixes, must be stored under refrigeration.

·        Check "expiration" or "use by" dates before consuming these products.

·        Thaw frozen meat, poultry and seafood inside the refrigerator in its original wrapping. Thawing a moderate-sized turkey in this manner may take two to four days. If time does not permit a gradual thaw, place the frozen turkey in a watertight wrapper and immerse in cold – not hot or warm – water until the meat is pliable. Change the water every half hour. Turkey may also be defrosted in the microwave, but must be cooked immediately after microwave thawing.

Cook foods to proper temperatures:

·        Before cooking, rinse poultry and seafood thoroughly in cold water and drain well.

·        Always use a meat thermometer to ensure that meat is thoroughly cooked.

o       Turkey, other poultry or ground poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 Fahrenheit to kill pathogens (germs) that may be present.

o       Beef, veal, and lamb steaks, roasts and chops should be cooked to at least 145 Fahrenheit.

o       Ground beef, veal and lamb should be cooked to at least 160 Fahrenheit.

o       Pork should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 160 Fahrenheit.

o       Stuffed meat, poultry and fish and any food stuffed with fish, meat or poultry should be heated to a minimum internal temperature of 165 Fahrenheit.

o       Eggs and foods containing raw eggs should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145 Fahrenheit.

·        When leftovers are eaten hot, they should be heated to at least 165 Fahrenheit or until hot and steaming throughout.

·        Cooking times in microwaves may vary. Cooking whole, stuffed poultry in a microwave is not recommended. Foods cooked or reheated in microwaves should be stirred or turned occasionally to ensure that all parts of the food are thoroughly cooked.

Refrigerate leftovers:
·        Do not eat leftover meat that has been refrigerated for longer than four days or leftover stuffing or gravy refrigerated for longer than two days. If properly wrapped, leftover meat may be safely consumed after being frozen for one to three months.

For more information on food safety visit the federal Food and Drug Administration Food Information at www.fsis.usda.gov or the Partnership for Food Safety Education at www.fightbac.org.

Last modified on: 12/14/2009 8:33 AM