Food Safety & Quality

Need food safety certification?  We can help!

The ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification program is offered on a monthly basis here at the Manatee County Extension office.  For more information, please call us at (941)722-4524 or log on to the Food Safety and Quality web site.

Explaining Food Expiration Dates

The following video clears up the confusion about food expiration dates.

Timely Turkey Tips

The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service has a helpful brochure called "Let's Talk Turkey" that's full of useful tips for preparing a safe and delicious turkey this holiday season.  Check it out here.

You can also get expert advice from the following sources:

The USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline:
1-888-674-6854 (10:00AM - 4:00PM Eastern Time, M-F)

The Butterball Turkey Talk-Line:
1-800-288-8372 (1-800-BUTTERBALL)

Proper Handwashing Is Important

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that proper and frequent handwashing can greatly reduce the spread of illness-causing microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses.  And with the continued threat of the Influenza H1N1 virus (commonly called 'swine flu') and the increasing prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, proper handwashing is more important than ever.

Here are the five steps to proper handwashing, according to the National Restaurant Association:

1. Wet hands and arms.  Use running water as hot as you can comfortably stand.  It should be at least 100°F (38°C).

2. Apply soap.  Apply enough to build a good lather.  Liquid, powder, or foam soap are ideal.

3. Scrub hands and arms (wrists) vigorously.  Scrub them for 10 to 15 seconds.  Clean under fingernails and between fingers.

4. Rinse hands and arms thoroughly.  Use running water.

5. Dry hands and arms.  Use a single-use paper towel or a warm-air hand dryer.

REMEMBER: For added protection when using a public restroom, try turning off the faucet and opening the door with a paper towel.

The University of Florida IFAS has developed a series of 11x17 handwashing posters for consumer use.  You can download them below.  (Adobe Reader is required to view them.  Get it here.)

Proper Handwashing for Caregivers
Proper Handwashing for Elders
Proper Handwashing for Food Handlers
Proper Handwashing for School Children

Foodborne Illness

Foodborne illness - commonly known as "food poisoning" - is a continuing concern in the United States.  Over 75 million cases of foodborne illness occur each year in this country, and the U.S. has one of the cleanest food supplies in the world!  Bacteria and viruses are the two leading causes of foodborne illness - tiny organisms that can't be seen without a microscope but can cause BIG problems for you.

But there is something you can do to minimize your risk.  By following these four principles, you can Fight BAC! and keep your food safe.

Fight Bac logo

View fact sheets from the USDA

  1. CLEAN: By keeping hands, utensils, and cutting boards clean, bacteria and viruses have no place to hide!
  2. SEPARATE: Don't cross-contaminate!  Keep raw foods away from cooked foods.
  3. COOK: Always cook foods to the proper internal temperature.
  4. CHILL: Keep cold foods cold (below 41°F) and NEVER leave leftovers sitting out longer than two hours.

For more food safety information over the phone, please call:

The USDA's Meat & Poultry Hotline
1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854)

FDA's Food Safety Information Hotline
1-888-SAFEFOOD (1-888-723-3366)