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Food Safety

As your neighborhood food market, Harris Teeter is proud to offer fresh, wholesome food products from places as familiar as your community and as diverse as the globe. Like you, we love preparing wonderful meals, and we make every effort to ensure that the products we sell meet the highest quality requirements and the strictest safety regulations.

We inspect the products that enter our distribution centers, and continue to routinely check them within our stores. Our employees are rigorously trained and certified to handle food in a manner that assures safe, wholesome and high quality products. In doing so we readily comply with all federal, state and local rules and regulations. By following Harris Teeter's yourwellness program, you can continue this "food safety chain" at home. We'll not only help you pick the best Harris Teeter products for your family, but offer suggestions on healthy ways to prepare them. Safe, healthy eating is as close as Harris Teeter - Your Neighborhood Food Market.


September is Food Safety Month - for more information visit the North Carolina Department of Agriculture

Keep Food Safe! Basics for Handling Food Safely
Safe steps in food handling, cooking, and storage are essential to prevent foodborne illness. In every step of food preparation, follow these basic guidelines to keep food safe:

  • Clean - Wash hands and surfaces often.
  • Separate - Don't cross-contaminate.
  • Cook - Cook to proper temperatures, checking with a food thermometer.
  • Chill - Refrigerate promptly.

Clean: Cleanliness Helps Prevent Foodborne Illness

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 foodborne illness. Even with food safety inspections of food establishments by Federal, State, and local government agencies, the consumer’s role is to make sure food is handled safely after it is purchased.

  1. Always wash hands with warm, soapy water:
    • before handling food
    • after handling raw food
    • after using the bathroom
    • after changing a diaper
    • after handling trash
    • after blowing nose, coughing, or sneezing
    • after handling pets
    • after any activity which may contaminate hands
  2. Thoroughly wash, rinse, and sanitize all surfaces that come in contact with food products. This includes cutting boards, dishes, knives, utensils, counter tops, etc. Wash in hot, soapy water; rinse with clean, hot water; sanitize with a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Apply sanitizer and let it remain on the surface for at least 1 minute; then let the surface air dry. When using a food thermometer, it is important to wash, rinse and sanitize the probe before using it, and after each use before reinserting it into another food.

Separate: Don't Cross-Contaminate

Cross-contamination is the transfer of harmful bacteria to food from other foods, cutting boards, utensils, hands, etc., if they are not handled properly. This is especially true when handling raw meat, poultry, and seafood, so keep these foods and their juices away from already cooked or ready-to-eat foods and fresh produce. When handling foods it is important to prevent cross-contamination. By following these simple steps, you can prevent cross-contamination and reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

When Shopping:
Separate raw meat, poultry, and seafood from other foods in your shopping cart. Place these foods in plastic bags to prevent their juices from dripping onto other foods. It is also best to separate these foods from other foods at checkout and in your grocery bags.

When Refrigerating Food:

Place raw meat, poultry, and seafood in containers or sealed plastic bags to prevent their juices from dripping onto other foods. Raw juices often contain harmful bacteria. Store raw foods below cooked or ready-to-eat foods and fresh produce. Store eggs in their original carton.

When Preparing and Serving Food:
Wash hands and surfaces often. Harmful bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen and get onto cutting boards, utensils, countertops and other surfaces. Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and their juices away from other food. After cutting raw meats, wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counter tops with hot, soapy water. If possible, use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meats. Never place cooked food back on the same plate or cutting board that previously held raw food.

Cook & Chill: How Temperatures Affect Food
When certain conditions exist, bacteria can grow rapidly, increasing in numbers to the point where some can cause illness. Therefore, understanding the important role temperature plays in keeping food safe is critical. If we know the temperature at which food has been handled, we can then answer the question, "Is it safe?"

The "Danger Zone" (40 °F-140 °F)
Bacteria grow most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40 ° and 140 °F, doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes. This temperature range is often called the "Danger Zone." That's why food handlers are advised to never leave food out of refrigeration longer than 2 hours. If the temperature is above 90 °F, food should not be left out more than 1 hour.

Cook: Cook Foods to the Proper Temperatures
Raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs should always be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature, as indicated in the chart below. Use an accurate food thermometer to assure that foods have reached a safe minimum internal temperature. An accurate food thermometer will read 32°F in ice water.

Product

Type

Internal Temperature (°F)

Beef & Veal

Ground

160

Steak and roasts medium

160

Steak and roasts medium rare

145

Chicken & Turkey

Breasts

165

Ground, stuffing, and casseroles

165

Whole bird, legs, thighs, and wings

165

Eggs

Any type

160

Fish & Shellfish

Any type

145

Lamb

Ground

160

Steak and roasts medium

160

Steaks and roasts medium rare

145

Leftovers

Any type

165

Pork

Chops, fresh (raw) ham ground, ribs, and roasts

160

Fully cooked ham (to reheat)

140

Reheating
Previously cooked foods should be reheated thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165°F. Use an accurate food thermometer to assure that foods have reached the correct internal temperature.

Chill: Keep Cold Foods Cold
Cold foods should be held at 40 °F or colder. Check the temperature of your refrigerator and freezer with a thermometer. The refrigerator should be at 40°F or below, and the freezer at 0°F or below. Promptly place cold and frozen foods in a refrigerator or freezer. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers within 2 hours or sooner in clean, shallow, covered containers to prevent harmful bacteria from multiplying.

Thawing Foods
There are three ways to safely thaw food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. Foods should never be thawed on the counter or in hot water. Food left above 40°F is not at a safe temperature. Even though the center of the package may still be frozen, as it thaws on the counter or in hot water the outer layer of the food is in the "Danger Zone," between 40°F and 140°F, at temperatures where bacteria can multiply rapidly. When thawing frozen foods, it's best to plan ahead and thaw food in the refrigerator where it will remain at a safe temperature – 40°F or below.

"Top 10 Reasons to Handle Your Food Safely."

NUMBER 10: Safe food handling practices are the ones most likely to preserve food's peak quality.

Keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold inhibits growth of the microorganisms that can spoil your food or make you ill. Storage at the proper temperature also retains the fresh appearance, pleasant aroma and agreeable texture that contribute so strongly to an enjoyable dining experience.

NUMBER 9: Safe food handling lets you enjoy to the fullest the nutritional benefits of food.

If you've taken the time to carefully select a variety of healthful foods, why not use them up — or properly preserve them for long-term storage — while nutrient levels are at their peak? Foods that must be discarded due to decay or temperature abuse nourish no one.

NUMBER 8: The safest ways to handle food are usually the most efficient.

Don't take chances in the name of saving time. Thawing meat and poultry products at room temperature and partial cooking are examples of practices which can seem like good ideas, but that may actually encourage bacterial growth by keeping food in the "danger zone" (40°-140°F) where bacteria multiply fastest. In the case of bacteria that produce heat-resistant toxins, this becomes a problem that further cooking can't fix.

NUMBER 7: Safe food handling is easy. You set a good example for others, including your children.

You are the last person to handle your food before it is eaten. You may be the last person to handle food before it is served to your family or friends. Take charge! Prevention of illness may be as simple as washing your hands - an often-neglected but VERY important act.

NUMBER 6: Safe food handling inspires confidence and keeps peace in the family.

Imagine: No more family feuds because someone handled dinner in a questionable fashion. And family and friends won't call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline begging to have food safety literature mailed to your address!

NUMBER 5: Safe food handling can enhance your standing in the community.

Food for a concession stand, bake sale or church supper must be carefully prepared. Many of those in your community are very young, elderly, or suffering from health problems that affect the immune system. These folks are at increased risk for foodborne illness. Protect their health and the reputation of your organization.

NUMBER 4: Safe food handling is the responsible thing to do.

Those for whom you prepare food deserve the best, and you expect no less from those who produce and prepare food for you. You are no less important than the manufacturer, government regulator, or grocer in assuring food safety. You are an important link in the farm-to-table chain.

NUMBER 3: Safe food handling saves money.

Foodborne illness costs billions each year in health care costs and lost wages. It's hard to throw away food you know has been mishandled. But compare the cost of the food to the cost of a bad case of food poisoning, starting with the doctor's bill!

NUMBER 2: By handling food safely, you will spare yourself and your family from a painful bout of illness.

Bacterial, parasitic or viral illness caused by food is no fun, and it can have long-term consequences.

Should we fear food? No. Microscopic organisms have always been and will always be an important part of our world. But we must store foods properly, cook them thoroughly and keep our hands and work areas clean. Sometimes, what you can't see can hurt you.

Which brings us to the...

NUMBER 1 REASON TO HANDLE YOUR FOOD SAFELY: It may save a life.

For additional information about food safety:
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture: 888-674-6854, www.fsis.usda.gov
U.S. Food & Drug Administration: 888-723-3366, www.fda.gov/Food/
U.S. Government Food Safety Information: www.foodsafety.gov/
Partnership for Food Safety Education: www.fightbac.org/