For safe food handling, always wash hands and cooking surfaces before working with foods, recommends the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It is also important not to cross-contaminate foods by keeping meats separate from other food items.
Keeping the food preparation area clean is one of the top ways to handle food safely. People working with food should wash their hands regularly throughout the day, including after using the restroom, after handling pets and before and after handling new food items. Keep all preparation stations clean, including knives and spatulas, cutting boards, counter tops, sinks and dishes. Clean the surface after working with each food item before moving on to the next. Clean with disposable rags or paper towels instead of using the same rags over and over again.
Always keep raw meat away from all other foods to prevent cross-contamination of bacteria. The raw meat should be in individual containers or packages and never placed near pasta, bread, fruits, vegetables or other food items, even when they're still in the grocery cart. Know the right temperatures for chilling and cooking foods. Learn what foods must be chilled in the refrigerator or freezer and what foods are okay to keep at room temperature. Cook foods at the recommended temperature.