Some great Food Saf...
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Some great Food Safety Basics from the usda website

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Keep Food Safe! Food Safety Basics

Safe steps in food handling, cooking, and storage are essential in preventing foodborne illness. You can't see, smell, or taste harmful bacteria that may cause illness. In every step of food preparation, follow the four guidelines to keep food safe:


  • Purchase refrigerated or frozen items after selecting your nonperishables.
  • Never choose meat or poultry in packaging that is torn or leaking.
  • Do not buy food past "Sell-By," "Use-By," or other expiration dates.

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  • Always refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours (1 hour when the temperature is above 90 °F).
  • Check the temperature of your refrigerator and freezer with an appliance thermometer. The refrigerator should be at 40 °F or below and the freezer at 0 °F or below.
  • Cook or freeze fresh poultry, fish, ground meats, and variety meats within 2 days; other beef, veal, lamb, or pork, within 3 to 5 days.
  • Perishable food such as meat and poultry should be wrapped securely to maintain quality and to prevent meat juices from getting onto other food.
  • To maintain quality when freezing meat and poultry in its original package, wrap the package again with foil or plastic wrap that is recommended for the freezer.
  • In general, high-acid canned food such as tomatoes, grapefruit, and pineapple can be stored unopened on the shelf for 12 to 18 months. Low-acid canned food such as meat, poultry, fish, and most vegetables will keep 2 to 5 years-if the unopened can remains in good condition and has been stored in a cool, clean, and dry place. Discard cans that are dented, leaking, bulging, or rusted.

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  • Refrigerator—The refrigerator allows slow, safe thawing. Make sure thawing meat and poultry juices do not drip onto other food.
  • Cold Water—For faster thawing, place food in a leak-proof plastic bag. Submerge in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes. Cook immediately after thawing.
  • Microwave—Cook meat and poultry immediately after microwave thawing.

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  • Always wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling food.
  • Don't cross-contaminate. Keep raw meat, poultry, fish, and their juices away from other food. After cutting raw meats, wash cutting board, knife, and counter tops with hot, soapy water.
  • Marinate meat and poultry in a covered dish in the refrigerator.
  • Sanitize cutting boards by using a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of water.

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Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook meat to higher temperatures.

Ground meats: Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 160 °F as measured with a food thermometer.

Poultry: Cook all poultry to an internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer.

Product Type Minimum Internal Temperature & Rest Time
Beef, Pork, Veal & Lamb Ground 160 °F
Steak, chops, and roasts 145 °F and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes
Chicken & Turkey Breasts 165 °F
Ground, stuffing, and casseroles 165 °F
Whole bird, legs, thighs, and wings 165 °F
Eggs Any type 160 °F
Fish & Shellfish Any type 145 °F
Leftovers Any type 165 °F
Ham Fresh or smoked (uncooked) 145 °F and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes
Fully cooked ham (to reheat) Reheat cooked hams packaged in USDA-inspected plants to 140 °F and all others to 165 °F.
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  • Hot food should be held at 140 °F or warmer.
  • Cold food should be held at 40 °F or colder.
  • When serving food at a buffet, keep hot food hot with chafing dishes, slow cookers, and warming trays. Keep cold food cold by nesting dishes in bowls of ice or use small serving trays and replace them often.
  • Use a food thermometer to check hot and cold holding temperatures.
  • Perishable food should not be left out more than 2 hours at room temperature (1 hour when the temperature is above 90 °F).

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  • Discard any food left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature was above 90 °F).
  • Place food into shallow containers and immediately put in the refrigerator or freezer for rapid cooling.
  • Use most cooked leftovers within 3 to 4 days. (See chart.)
  • Reheat leftovers to 165 °F.

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Meat and poultry defrosted in the refrigerator may be refrozen before or after cooking. If thawed by other methods, cook before refreezing.

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Cold Storage Chart
These storage times will help keep refrigerated (40 °F) food from spoiling or becoming dangerous to eat. Because freezing at 0 °F or below (not 32 °F) keeps food safe indefinitely, recommended freezer storage times are for quality only. Use an appliance thermometer to monitor storage temperatures in the refrigerator and freezer.

Cold Storage Chart
Preparation Type or Description Refrigerate (40 °F) Freeze (0 °F) *
Beef, Lamb, Pork, Veal
Fresh beef, lamb, veal and pork Ground, hamburger, stew meat, variety meat (tongue, liver, heart, kidney, chitterlings) 1-2 days 3-4 months
Chops, roasts, steaks 3-5 days 4-12 months
Chops, pre-stuffed 1 day Does not freeze well
Leftovers Including casseroles 3-4 days 2-3 months
Corned Beef In pouch, with pickling juices 5-7 days Drained, 1 month
Bacon Bacon 7 days 1 month
Ham (Pre-Cooked)
Fully Cooked Slices 3-4 days 1-2 months
Half 3-5 days 1-2 months
Whole 7 days 1-2 months
Canned Labeled "Keep Refrigerated" Opened 3-5 days 1-2 months
Unopened 6-9 months Do not freeze
Vacuum sealed Unopened, fully cooked vacuum sealed, dated "Use-by" date 1-2 months
Unopened, fully cooked vacuum sealed, undated 2 weeks 1-2 months
Chicken, Turkey, Other Poultry
Fresh Chicken breast, pre-stuffed 1 day Does not freeze well
Ground, patties, giblets 1-2 days 3-4 months
Pieces 1-2 days 9 months
Whole 1-2 days 1 year
Leftovers Casseroles 3-4 days 4-6 months
Chicken nuggets, patties 1-2 days 1-3 months
Pieces, plain or fried 3-4 days 4 months
Pieces in broth or gravy 3-4 days 6 months
Fresh In shell 3-5 weeks Do not freeze
Yolk, whites 2-4 days 1 year
Leftovers Casserole, quiche, omelet 3-4 days 2 months
Hard-cooked 1 week Does not freeze well
Opened Liquid pasteurized eggs, egg substitutes 3 days Does not freeze well
Unopened Liquid pasteurized eggs, egg substitutes 10 days 1 year
Sausages, Lunch Meats
Hard Sausage Jerky sticks, pepperoni 2-3 weeks 1-2 months
Raw Sausage Beef, chicken, pork, turkey 1-2 days 1-2 months
Smoked Sausage Breakfast links, patties 7 days 1-2 months
Lunch Meat Deli-sliced or store-prepared 3-5 days 1-2 months
Opened Hot dogs 1 week 1-2 months
Lunch meat—vacuum-packed, sliced 3-5 days 1-2 months
Summer sausage labeled "keep refrigerated" 3 weeks 1-2 months
Unopened Hot dogs 2 weeks 1-2 months
Lunch meat—vacuum-packed, sliced 2 weeks 1-2 months
Summer sausage labeled "keep refrigerated" 3 months 1-2 months
Fresh Fish 1-2 days 3-8 months
Shellfish 1-2 days 3-12 months
Leftovers Fish and shellfish 3-4 days 3 months
Frozen Dinners and Entrees "Keep frozen" Unsafe to thaw 3-4 months
Mayonnaise Commercial, "refrigerate after opening" 2 months Do not freeze
Other Leftovers Gravy and meat broth 3-4 days 2-3 months
Pizza 3-4 days 1-2 months
Soups and stews 3-4 days 2-3 months
Stuffing 3-4 days 1 month
Salads Egg, chicken, ham, macaroni, tuna (store-prepared, homemade) 3-5 days Does not freeze well

* Because freezing at 0 °F keeps food safe indefinitely, recommended storage times are for quality only.

For More Food Safety Information, Contact:
USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline
1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854)
The hotline is open year-round Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET (English or Spanish). Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.
Email: [email protected] 
Visit the Web: : FSIS' automated response system can provide food safety information 24/7 and a live chat during Hotline hours.