New York State Department of Health Recognizes September as National Food Safety Education Month

Department Shares Tips for Safely Preparing Food

Food Protection Program Helps Safeguard Public Health

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 21, 2023) – The New York State Department of Health recognizes September as National Food Safety Education Month with safety tips to prevent foodborne illness or "food poisoning."

"Preparing meals for yourself and others can be a fun and rewarding process, but it is critically important that basic safety practices are followed to avoid food-borne illness," State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "Protect your health and the health of your friends and family by cooking meats to the proper temperature, avoiding cross contamination, and properly storing your food."

The Federal government estimates that there are about 48 million cases of foodborne illness annually – that's about 1 in 6 Americans each year. Each year, these illnesses result in an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.

Food preparation safety tips:

  • Wrap fresh meats in plastic bags at the market to prevent blood and juices from dripping on other foods. Refrigerate foods promptly, and do not keep food at room temperature.
  • Marinate food in the refrigerator. Don't taste the marinade or re-use it after raw meat has been added.
  • Never place ready-to-eat food on an unwashed surface that previously held raw beef, poultry, pork, fish or seafood.
  • Cutting boards and counters used for beef, poultry, pork, fish or seafood preparation should be washed immediately after use to prevent cross contamination with other foods.
  • Don't spread germs from raw chicken and other raw meats around food preparation areas. Washing raw meat before cooking is not recommended.
  • Wash hands after touching raw meat. Use utensils to handle the cooked meat. Do not place cooked meat on surfaces that touched raw meat.
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked meats. While the juice color will usually change from red to gray when the meat is fully cooked, it is not a reliable test to assure it is safe to eat.
  • Always check the temperature with a meat thermometer. Foods that reach the temperatures listed below or higher are fully cooked.
Food Temperature
Chicken 165° F
Hamburger 160° F
Pork 150° F
Leftovers 165° F
Eggs 145° F
Other food that requires heating 140° F

To check the temperature of the meat, insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, which is the least cooked part. Be careful not to pass through the meat and touch the cooking surface or you will get a false high temperature reading.

More food safety tips are available here and tips for those planning a barbecue are available here.

The Department's Bureau of Community Environmental Health and Food Protection works to protect the public health by assuring that food service establishments are operated in a manner that eliminates hazards through design and management, resulting in a decreased incidence of foodborne illness in our communities. The Bureau's Outbreak Investigation and research section coordinates foodborne outbreak investigations and analyzes the findings. This information is used to develop regulations and guidance designed to prevent similar outbreaks in the future.

Recently, the Department of Health, along with the Department of Agriculture and Markets launched an initiative to increase awareness of food allergies in consumers. As of May 20, any establishment serving food must display an allergy notice in an area that is easily visible and readily accessible to employees involved in food preparation and service.