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Fight BAC!
Four Simple Steps to Food Safety

September 1998

Right now, there may be an invisible enemy ready to strike. He's called BAC (bacteria) and he can make you and those you care about sick. In fact, even though you can't see BAC -- or smell him, or feel him -- he and millions more like him may have already invaded the food you eat.

But you have the power to Fight BAC and to keep food safe from harmful bacteria. It's as easy as following these four simple steps:

faucet imageClean: Wash hands and surfaces often

Bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen and get onto cutting boards, utensils, sponges and counter tops. Here's how to Fight BAC:

two seperate cutting boards for meat and vegetablesSeparate: Don't cross-contaminate

Cross-contamination is the scientific word for how bacteria can be spread from one food product to another. This is especially true when handling raw meat, poultry and seafood, so keep these foods and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods. Here's how to Fight BAC:

thermometerCook: Cook to proper temperatures

Food safety experts agree that foods are properly cooked when they are heated for a long enough time and at a high enough temperature to kill the harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness. The best way to Fight BAC is to:

refrigeratorChill: Refrigerate promptly

Refrigerate foods quickly because cold temperatures keep harmful bacteria from growing and multiplying. So, set your refrigerator no higher than 40°F and the freezer unit at 0°F. Checking these temperatures occasionally with an appliance thermometer. Then, Fight BAC by following these steps:

Apply the Heat ... and Fight BAC

Cooking food to the proper temperature kills harmful bacteria. So Fight BAC by thoroughly cooking your food as follows:

Raw Food Internal Temperature

Ground Products
Hamburger 160°F
Beef, veal, lamb, pork 160°F
Chicken, turkey 165°F

Beef, Veal, Lamb

Roasts & Steaks
medium-rare 145°F
medium 160°F
well-done 170°F


Chops, roast, ribs
medium 160°F
well-done 170°F
Ham, fresh 160°F
Sausage, fresh 160°F


Chicken, whole & pieces 180°F
Duck 180°F
Turkey (unstuffed) 180°F
Whole 180°F
Breast 170°F
Dark meat 180°F
Stuffing (cooked separately) 165°F


Fried, poached yolk & white are firm
Casseroles 160°F
Sauces, custards 160°F

This chart has been adapted for home use and is consistent with consumer guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

Be a BAC Fighter

Although an invisible enemy may be in your kitchen, you have four powerful tools to Fight BAC: wasing hands and surfaces often, avoiding cross-contamination, cooking to proper temperatures, and refrigerating promptly. So, be a BAC Fighter and make the meals and snacks from your kitchen as safe as possible.

For More Information About Safe Food Handling and Preparation

USDA's Meat and Poultry Hotline:

FDA's Food Information and Seafood Hotline:

Partnership for Food Safety Education Web Site

Or contact your local cooperative extension office.

Distributed July 1998 for use in September 1998 as part of the International Food Safety Council's National Food Safety Education Month.

This article was provided by U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture. You can find this article online by typing this address into your Web browser:

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