Keep It Clean
When it comes to safe food handling, everything that comes in contact with food must be kept clean. Food that is mishandled can lead to foodborne illness. While the United States has one of the safest food supplies in the world, preventing foodborne illness remains a major public health challenge.

Cleanliness is a major factor in preventing foodborne illness. Even with food safety inspection and monitoring at Federal, State, and local government facilities, the consumer's role is to make sure food is handled safely after it is purchased. Everything that touches food should be clean. Listed below are steps we can take to help prevent foodborne illness by safely handling food in the home:

1. Always wash hands with hot, soapy water

  • before handling food;

  • in between handling cooked and raw food;

  • after handling food;

  • before handling clean dishes;

  • after handling dirty dishes;

  • after using the bathroom;

  • after changing a diaper;

  • after tending to a sick person;

  • after blowing nose, coughing, or sneezing; and

  • after handling pets.

2. If your hands have any kind of skin abrasion or infection, first wash your hands with hot, soapy water, then use clean disposable gloves.

3. Use hot, soapy water to thoroughly wash all surfaces that come in contact with raw meat, poultry, fish, and eggs before moving on to the next step in food preparation. Consider using paper towels to clean kitchen surfaces. If you use dishcloths, wash them often in the hot cycle of your washing machine. Keep other surfaces, such as faucets and counter tops, clean by washing with hot, soapy water.

4.  To keep cutting boards clean, wash them in hot, soapy water after each use; then rinse and let air dry. Cutting boards can be sanitized with a solution of one teaspoon liquid chlorine bleach per quart of water. Flood the surface with the bleach solution and allow it to stand for several minutes; then rinse and let air dry. Non-porous acrylic, plastic, glass, and solid wood boards can be washed in a dishwasher (laminated boards may crack and split). Even plastic boards wear out over time. Once cutting boards become excessively worn or develop hard-to-clean grooves, replace them.

5. Don't use the same platter and utensils that held the raw food product to serve the cooked product. Any bacteria present in the raw meat or juices can contaminate the safely cooked product. Serve cooked products on clean plates, using clean utensils and clean hands.

6. When using a food thermometer, it is important to wash the probe after each use with hot, soapy water before reinserting it into a food.

7.  Keep the refrigerator clean by wiping up spills immediately. Clean
surfaces thoroughly with hot, soapy water and rinse. Once a week, make it a habit to throw out perishable foods that should no longer be eaten.

8.  Keep pets, household cleaners, and other chemicals away from food and surfaces used for food.

9.  When picnicking or cooking outdoors, take plenty of clean utensils. Pack clean, dry, and wet and soapy cloths for cleaning surfaces and hands.

Because bacteria are everywhere, cleanliness is a major factor in preventing foodborne illness. By keeping everything clean that comes in contact with food, consumers can be assured they are helping to do their part to prevent food borne illness.
For more information on keeping it clean call the toll-free nationwide Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-800-535-4555. The Hotline is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Eastern Time. Also, an extensive selection of timely food safety recordings are available 24 hours a day, every day, by using a touch-tone phone and the "user-friendly" menu which prompts callers.

Helpful food safety information is now available on the Internet. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service Home Page address is

For more information about food protection in Solano County, please contact the Resource Management Environmental Health Division at (707) 784-6765 during normal business hours.