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Topic #18

Identify Unsafe Food

Identify unsafe food.

Links, Resources & More

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When you volunteer around food, you have many opportunities to keep others safe from foodborne illness. Start with your safety mindset and learn ways to practice vigilance and spot problems that need to be addressed.

Don't take food safety for granted: when in doubt, throw it out.

The FACTS: What you need to KNOW

  1. Food that can make you sick doesn't always smell or look bad.
  2. Raw meat is the main source of cross-contamination. It should be prepared away from other foods, using a separate cutting board, and should be stored below other foods in the refrigerator or freezer.
  3. Food can spoil because it was not kept at the right temperature. This might be on the counter or in a refrigerator that's not working correctly.
  4. Signs that canned or bottled food is not safe include swollen ends, leaks, popped lids, dents along the seam, or rust.

For more on this topic, read Card #17, Introduction to Food Safety.

The Actions: What you need to DO

Speak up when you spot a potential problem. Bring it to the attention of a manager.

Watch for foods that are left out or forgotten, stored in the wrong place, or heated or cooled incorrectly. Cooked rice, beans, potatoes, and pasta become hazardous if you add water without controlling the temperature correctly.

Ask for specific instructions before handling meat, dairy products, eggs, or seafood. These foods are prime suspects for cross-contamination.

Watch for signs of hazards, such as insects, pests, or chemical contaminants. Bring them to the attention of a manager.