Food Safety

Food Safety Basics

Fact sheets & more  | Food Defense 101  | Contact us  |

Almost everyone has experienced foodborne illness, usually called "food poisoning." Often these illnesses are merely uncomfortable and inconvenient and don't require medical care. However, such infections can also result in very serious consequences, including hospitalization and death.

Changes in the way food is processed and distributed, international markets, and consumer demand have altered our food supply. Today, food may reach the table through long chains of production, packaging, and transportation, providing many opportunities for contamination. All these factors increase the risk for foodborne illness.

Although large disease outbreaks associated with restaurants generally get more media attention, it is just as easy for foodborne illness to occur at home. If food is handled and prepared safely, most of these illnesses can be avoided.

Wash hands and surfaces often

USDA Be food safe - Clean
Bacteria is present throughout the kitchen. It can be found on cutting boards, utensils, sponges, counter tops and other surfaces.

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Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate foods

USDA Be food safe icon
Cross-contamination is a term used to describe how bacteria can spread from one food to another. For example, cross contamination can occur when vegetables to be eaten raw come in contact with the liquid from raw meat, poultry and seafood.

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Cook: Heat foods to proper temperatures

Is it done yet? USDA temperature chartIs It Done Yet? Temperature Chart PDF
USDA's recommended internal temperatures for meat and poultry products in handy chart form; Chart also available as a 17 x 11-inch poster PDF

Food safety experts agree that foods are properly cooked when they are heated for a long enough time at a high enough temperature to kill any harmful bacteria:

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Chill: Refrigerate foods promptly

USDA Be food safe - Chill
Cold temperatures keep harmful bacteria from growing and multiplying. Refrigerators should be set no higher than 40ºF and freezers set at 0ºF.

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When in doubt, throw it out!

Be food safe - USDA

If you're just not sure, then play it safe
Discard any questionable food items.
It's not worth the risk for you and your family


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Fact Sheets & more information

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Food Defense 101

Be a part of the Team to Protect our Nation’s Food Supply

The food industry plays an integral part in protecting the nation’s food infrastructure. The FDA's Food Defense 101 provides training in preparedness against an intentional attack to our food supply. The courses provide an understanding of and guidance for developing a Food Defense Plan(s) based on a common sense approach. Food Defense 101 is comprised of four courses:

Learn more, and get started today.

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Contact us

Division of Health Protection
Vermont Department of Health
PO Box 70
Burlington, VT 05402
Tel. 800-439-8550 or 802-863-7221

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