Food Handling Guidelines

Tips for Preventing Food Poisoning

You can't see, smell, or taste any of the harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning. That's why handling food safely is essential to prevent foodborne illnesses.

Follow these food handling safety tips when you shop for, prepare, thaw, cook, and serve food. It will help ensure your safety and help you to protect your family from food poisoning and trips to the doctor or hospital.


  • Always purchase refrigerated or frozen items after you shop for non-perishables. It will keep these items cold for as long as possible, until you can put them in your freezer or refrigerator at home.
  • Never purchase meat, poultry, or fish if the product's packaging is torn, open, or leaking.
  • Don't buy food past its expiration date.


  • Always wash your hands before and after handling food.
  • Avoid cross-contamination. Keep raw meat, poultry, fish, and their juices away from other food. After cutting raw meats and fish, wash your hands, cutting board, knife, and counter tops with hot, soapy water.
  • When marinating meat and poultry in the refrigerator, use a covered dish to avoid having any of the juices spill onto other food.
  • You can sanitize cutting boards with a solution containing 1 teaspoon of bleach and 1 quart of water.


  • Don't just allow meat or poultry to sit on the counter to thaw for hours. Use a refrigerator when possible, as it allows for slow and safe thawing. Just make sure meat and poultry juices don't drip onto other foods.
  • You can use cold water to thaw your meats and poultry faster. Place food in a leak-proof plastic bag and submerge it in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes until your food is completely thawed. Cook immediately after thawing.
  • You can also thaw meat and poultry in the microwave by using its defrosting settings. Just make sure you enter the correct weight, so your food doesn't roast as well. Once thawed, cook the food immediately.

Cooking & Serving

Allow meat to sit untouched for at least three minutes before carving or consuming, so that your meat can continue cooking. Check the internal temperature of fish, meat, and poultry to be sure it's ready to eat. Use the chart below from for recommended minimum temperatures.

Food Handling Guidelines table

If you are serving food at a buffet, keep food hot with chafing dishes, slow cookers, and warming trays. Additionally, have individual utensils for each additional food.

Victim of Food Poisoning? Learn About Your Legal Options

If you became a victim of food poisoning and have medical bills and missed work time, protect your legal rights. Contact the Pennsylvania law firm of Edgar Snyder & Associates right away by calling 412-725-0504, or fill out the form at the top right of this webpage for a no obligation, free legal consultation.

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