Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner

Safe Food Handling Practices to Prevent Foodborne Illnesses

Preparation and Storage Rules

  • Start with clean, wholesome food from reliable sources. Wash all raw fruits and vegetables before using.
  • Hold frozen food at 0° F or lower during delivery and storage.
  • Scrub and sanitize all cutting boards, knives, and electric slicers immediately after contact with raw or cooked meats, fish, or poultry.
  • Hold all potentially hazardous foods out of the danger zone, 41° - 140° F. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
  • Reach an internal temperature of 165° to 170° F for foods to be held for serving. Maintain a minimum temperature of 135° F during the serving period.
  • Re-pan in shallow containers any cooked food to be held at refrigerated temperatures. Refrigerate immediately. Center of the food should reach 40° F within 4 hours. To hasten cooling, space pans in the cooler to allow for adequate air circulation.
  • Never serve questionable food. If in doubt throw it out.
  • Avoid cross-contamination of foods during preparation, storage, and service.


  • Wash hands with soap and water. Hands must be washed when reporting to work, after handling raw poultry and meat, smoking, sneezing, and use of handkerchief, and after using the toilet.
  • Keep all work surfaces clean and organized.
  • Keep the work area clean and all spills wiped up immediately.
  • Refrigerate promptly all unused foods.
  • Use clean equipment in preparing, cooking, and serving food.
  • Avoid touching food as much as possible. Use the proper utensils.
  • Handle all utensils and serving equipment by handles and bases to avoid touching areas that will later come in contact with the food.
  • Use a clean spoon to taste food.
  • Keep fingernails trimmed and clean. Scrub nails with a nail brush after a visit to the toilet and after handling raw meat, poultry, and fish.
  • Keep hair clean and use a hairnet or other restraint.
  • Reassign employees with infected cuts or burns. These employees should not prepare food or handle equipment with will come in contact with food.
Source: National Food Service Management Institute (1995). Healthy Cuisine for Kids Workshop Trainer's Manual The University of Mississippi: NFSMI
Taken from What's Cooking? A fact sheet for the Child and Adult Care Food Program, Volume 1, Number 3, National Food Service Management Institute, The University of Mississippi.