Safe Food Preparation
There are many ways food can be prepared. How safely food is handled during preparation can make or break a tasty meal.
More information can be found on the K-State Extension Food Safety webpage.
A critical part of healthy eating is keeping foods safe. Individuals in their own homes can reduce contaminants and keep food safe to eat by following safe food handling practices.
Four basic food safety principles work together to reduce the risk of foodborne illness—Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill. These four principles are the cornerstones of Fight BAC!®, a national public education campaign to promote food safety to consumers and educate them on how to handle and prepare food safely.
- CLEAN: Wash hands and surfaces often
- SEPARATE: Don't cross-contaminate!
- COOK: Cook to proper temperature
- CHILL: Refrigerate promptly
For more information about ways to clean, separate, cook, and chill to keep food safe, check out:
- Have a refrigerator thermometer.
- Know where to get dry ice.
- Keep on hand a few days worth of ready-to-eat foods that do not require cooking or cooling, which depend on electricity.
When the Power Goes Out
- Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
- The refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened.
- Refrigerators should be kept at 40° F or below for proper food storage.
Once the Power is Restored
- Check the temperature inside of the refrigerator and freezer.
- If an appliance thermometer was kept in the freezer, check the temperature when the power comes back on. If the freezer thermometer reads 40° F or below, the food is safe and may be refrozen.
- If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine its safety. You can't rely on appearance or odor. If the food still contains ice crystals or is 40° F or below, it is safe to refreeze or cook.
- Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power was out for no more than 4 hours. Keep the door closed as much as possible.
- Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40° F for two hours or more.
Do not taste food to see if it is safe. You cannot taste or smell bacteria that may have been growing in food. "When in Doubt, Throw it Out!"
Safe Food Storage
- Food Storage for Safety and Quality
- Safe Food Storage: The Cupboard
- Safe Food Storage: The Refrigerator and Freezer
For information about how to prepare a delicious holiday turkey and more:
For more information about food safety at the holidays and beyond (in English and Spanish), call:
USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline
10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern time,
Monday through Friday
Or “Ask Karen,” FSIS’ Web-based automated
response system—available 24/7 at