Food Safety for Individuals

Food Safety for Individuals

Food safety is the primary focus of the City West Allis Health Department’s Environmental Health group. Our web page for businesses (create link to separate webpage for Food Safety Business) has information on the more stringent rules they are held to. Food handling safety risks are more common than most people think.

Follow These Four Easy Steps To Help Your Family Be Food Safe.


10 Common Food Safety Mistakes

Mistake #1: Tasting Food to see if it's still goodNever taste your food to check if it has spoiled. You can't taste, see, or even smell the bacteria that cause food poisoning, and tasting just a tiny bit of contaminated food can cause serious illness.1
Mistake #2: Putting cooked or ready-to-eat foods back on a plate that held raw meat

Never let raw meat, poultry, or seafood touch cooked meat or any ready-to-eat foods, as this can cause cross-contamination. Foodborne pathogens from the raw meat can easily spread to ready-to-eat foods and cause food poisoning, yet 24% of Americans report not properly separating these foods.

Make sure you always use separate plates, cutting boards, and utensils to keep raw meats, poultry, and seafood separate from ready-to-eat foods.

Mistake #3: Thawing food on the counter

Never thaw food on the counter. Harmful foodborne pathogens multiply rapidly when foods are in the danger zone- between 41°F and 135°F.

Instead, always thaw foods in the refrigerator, cold running water, or in the microwave.

Mistake #4: Washing meat or poultryNever wash raw meat or poultry because the water can easily spread bacteria to your sink, countertops and other kitchen surfaces. Only wash raw fruits and vegetables4
Mistake #5: Letting food cool before putting it in the fridge

Don't leave food out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours or 1 hour if it is over 90°F outside. Illness-causing bacteria can grow rapidly when perishables are left in the danger zone- between 41°F and 135°F.

Instead, always refrigerate foods in a timely manner. If you are on a road trip, tailgating, or picnicking be sure to packer perishable foods in a well-insulated 

Mistake #6: Eating raw cookie dough or batter (other foods containing uncooked eggs)
Never eat any raw eggs because they may contain Salmonella or other harmful bacteria. Instead, cook eggs thoroughly, avoid foods that contain raw or undercooked eggs6
Mistake #7: Marinating meat or seafood on the counter/ using raw meat marinade on cooked food

Never marinate meat, poultry, or seafood on the counter or use the same marinade for raw meat and cooked food. If you marinate on the counter, harmful germs can multiply rapidly when left in the danger zone- between 41°F and 135°F. In addition, if you use the same marinade on raw and cooked meats, the harmful bacteria from the raw food can spread to the cooked food.

Always marinate raw meat, seafood, and poultry in the refrigerator and only reuse marinade if you bring it to a boil just before using

Mistake #8: Undercooking meat, poultry, seafood, or eggsCooked food is safe only after it's been heated to a high enough internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria. In order to avoid eating undercooked foods, you must use a food thermometer- the only way to determine if cooked foods are safe to eat.8

Mistake #9: Not washing your hands

Illness-causing bacteria can survive in many places- including on your hands. Washing your hands the right way can stop the spread of these bacteria.

Always wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm running water.

Mistake #10: Not replacing sponges and dish rags

Ironically, sponges, dishrags, and items used to clean are some of the dirtiest tools in your kitchen. Sponges and dishrags can hold on to harmful foodborne pathogens and cause a serious health risk.

Always sanitize your sponges at least every other day and replace them every week or two for best protection against germs.