From the Desk of Extension-Keeping Food Safe to Eat

UW Madison Division of Extension Dodge County has launched a new effort to support Dodge County residents especially during these uncertain times. We are calling it “FROM THE DESK OF EXTENSION-(article topic)”.  This will be a weekly article covering topics from our programmatic areas of agriculture, families, youth, and food/nutrition. The articles will address current issues facing residents through the lens of those program areas. Thank you for supporting our mission to bring relevant research based information and education to the residents of Dodge County.

Kimberly Lafler & Caitlin Richardson | Extension Dodge County FoodWIse Program

Clean, separate, cook and chill. What do these four words have in common? These core four words are all steps we take to practice food safety. According to the CDC, 1 out of every 6 Americans gets sick from their food every year. One way we can prevent this from happening is by practicing good food safety. Let’s break down each core four word and summarize what we can do to prevent food-borne illness.

  • Clean: Make sure the surfaces of what we cook & eat with are free from bacteria. This also includes rinsing our produce (scrubbing if there is dirt) and washing our hands. It is important to wash hands with soap and water. Soap is the key to getting bacteria off hands. Here’s how soap works. One part of the soap is attracted to bacteria, so when you rub your hands together, it loosens up the bacteria and helps the soap to pull the bacteria away from the skin. The other end of soap is attracted to water. So, when you rinse your hands, the soap (along with the bacteria) goes down the drain.
  • Separate: This is especially important when thinking about raw meat/ eggs and foods we are not going to cook. We want to keep these two categories of foods away from each other in all places- our grocery carts, refrigerators and when cooking.
  • Chill: Keeping cold foods cold (below 40°F). Cold foods can be safely left out for a short period of time. We can safely leave perishable foods out for no more than 2 hours (1 hour if the weather is over 90°F). Why? Bacteria start to multiply quickly when the weather is above 40° After the respective hours mentioned above, the number of potential bacteria could be at a number that would make us sick.
  • Cook: Checking to ensure that the internal temperature of our foods is hot enough. Heat kills bacteria and when we eat meat or eggs that are not hot enough, bacteria could still be present and can make us sick. Below is the USDA safe internal cooking temperatures chart for a reference.


Product Minimum Internal Temperature & Rest Time
Beef, Pork, Veal & Lamb Steaks, chops, roasts 145 °F (62.8 °C) and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes
Ground Meats 160 °F (71.1 °C)
Ground Poultry 165 °F
Ham, fresh or smoked (uncooked) 145 °F (62.8 °C) and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes
Fully Cooked Ham (to reheat) Reheat cooked hams packaged in USDA-inspected plants to 140 °F (60 °C) and all others to 165 °F (73.9 °C).
All Poultry (breasts, whole bird, legs, thighs, wings, ground poultry, giblets, and stuffing) 165 °F (73.9 °C)
Eggs 160 °F (71.1 °C)
Fish & Shellfish 145 °F (62.8 °C)
Leftovers 165 °F (73.9 °C)
Casseroles 165 °F (73.9 °C)


Have questions? We are here to help.

Caitlin Richardson:

Kimberly Lafler:



Safe internal temp chart: Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures Chart

Food poisoning stat: Key Facts About Food Poisoning





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