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Keep food safe in your kitchen with these tips

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Updated: 12/13/2012 12:28 pm

(BPT) - How safe is your kitchen? It's a question you should always be asking yourself.

The majority of Americans find food safety important both at restaurants and in their own kitchen, according to new National Restaurant Association research. America's restaurants serve 130 million customers each day, making the restaurant industry a critical component of the food safety universe. The industry has a long-standing commitment to food safety as there is nothing more important than the health and safety of guests. Almost all consumers say it is important to them to know that the restaurants they visit train employees in food safety.

When it comes to cooking at home, virtually all consumers say they have at least basic knowledge of food safety. Sixty-three percent say they are aware of proper food safety practices and always follow them, while 33 percent say they are familiar with some food safety practices and follow those when they can.

In order to prevent foodborne illness, avoiding cross-contamination is essential. When cooking at home, remember to follow these tips from food safety experts at the National Restaurant Association:

1. Wash your hands: Hand-washing is the first defense against cross-contamination. Wash your hands before handling any food and always after handling raw meat.

2. Touch nothing but your food: Don't rub your nose, touch your hair or cough into your hand while preparing food, as germs from anything you touch can be transferred onto food.

3. Keep foods apart: Don't store raw meats next to or above ready-to-eat foods in your fridge and use different utensils, knives, cutting boards and prep surfaces for raw and cooked food. A good way to remember which is which is to use different colored cutting boards, for example red for meats and green for vegetables.

4. Treat friends with food allergies to a safe meal: Take extra care to prep dishes for guests with food allergies, as it's not enough to simply pick the item in question off a dish. Prepare the dish separately from other food, including using separate cutting boards and utensils.

September is National Food Safety Month, with an annual campaign to heighten awareness about the importance of food safety education. This year's National Food Safety Month theme is “Be Safe, Don't Cross-Contaminate,” providing tips and education on preventing the transferring of germs from one surface to another. 

National Food Safety Month highlights components of the NRA's ServSafe Food Safety program - the leading source of food safety training and certification for restaurant and foodservice industry professionals for nearly 40 years.

While the campaign is held each September, remember that food safety is critical year-round and should be practiced every day. For more information and free resources, visit FoodSafetyMonth.com.

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