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Food Safety

Sometimes food is contaminated when we buy it, or it is not handled properly. A simple mistake can have serious health consequences.  ​​


Four simple steps to decrease risk for food borne illness

  • Clean– wash hands and surfaces often 
  • Separate– don't cross-contaminate 
  • Cook– cook to the right temperature
  • Chill- refrigerate promptly

Additional Resources

People At Risk

For any questions, call 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) to speak with a food specialist at USDA. You can also check out their Food Safety and Inspection Service page for additional information. ​

Ask Karen – your guide to handling and storing food safely and preventing food poisoning.


Is there a food safety question you want answered?  How long can you safely store meat in the refrigerator? How long do leftovers last? Or, how can I tell if my chicken is cooked to a safe temperature?

You can simply Ask Karen, an expert resource at USDA. Use this page to search for common food safety questions (available 24/7), submit a question, or participate in a live chat (Monday - Friday:  10:00 AM - 04:00 PM EST).

Or call the USDA Meat & Poultry

Hotline: 1-888-MPHotline


On your mobile phone access Ask Kare

En Español

​By following our  four simple steps, you can  significantly decrease your risk for food borne illness.  

  • Clean – Wash hands and surfaces often. 

  • Separate – Don't cross-contaminate 

  • Cook – Cook to the right temperature

  • Chill - Refrigerate promptly :

You can also check the list of  dangerous food safety mistakes.