You might be a great home chef, but how do you fare when it comes to food safety? There’s way more to kitchen safety than just washing your hands before you start cooking. These things might seem nitpicky at first, but they’re super important for your health. After all, the last thing you want is to spend precious time making a home-cooked meal, only to get sick from something that was improperly done during your cooking process.
From properly storing food to cooking meats to the right temperature, here are 50 food safety dos and don’ts to let govern your kitchen. We broke these down into 25 dos and 25 don’ts. Hopefully, you’re doing all of these already, but if you’re not, it’s never too late to start.
Plus, test out your cooking skills with our favorite 22 Meals to Melt Belly Fat in 2022.
Simply washing fruits and vegetables that have hard rinds (think: melons and cucumbers) may not be enough to get all of the dirt and bacteria off of them, says Jory R. Lange, a national food safety lawyer. By using a sterilized scrub brush, you can get into those ridges and clean your produce correctly so that dirt and bacteria won’t transfer from your cutting knife to the fruit or vegetable after slicing through the rind.
When you’re grilling, don’t just eye meats to judge their doneness. Rather, use a meat thermometer, the CDC suggests. And you should know what temperatures meat and poultry should reach before you serve them, too.
The CDC recommends that whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and veal reach a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Fish, likewise, should reach 145 degrees, while ground beef and hamburgers should reach a minimum of 160 degrees before you serve them. For poultry and pre-cooked meats, such as hot dogs, 165 degrees Fahrenheit is safe.
Your refrigerator temperature should be set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, and your freezer temperature should be 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, according to the USDA. To make sure your fridge and freezer are set at the right temps, you can use an appliance thermometer to take a read.
Is the cookout BYOB (Bring Your Own Burger)? If so, be sure to keep your meat—as well as poultry and seafood—cool by transporting it in an insulated cooler. The temperature should be under 40 degrees in the cooler, the CDC recommends.
The way you organize your refrigerator is more important than you think. Food safety experts say it’s important to store raw meat on the bottom shelf of your fridge, keeping it away from fresh produce and ready-to-eat foods. If you have multiple shelves at the bottom, you’ll want to store foods requiring lower cooking temperatures above foods that require higher cooking temperatures. The reason? If chicken juices dripped on steak, the steak may not be cooked at a high enough temperature to kill the bacteria.