Print Versions:

Fight BAC!® Four Steps to Food Safety

fight BAC logo

There may be an enemy in food that you can't see, smell, taste, or feel. It can make you sick. The enemy is called BAC (bacteria).

You can keep your food safe from harmful bacteria. "Fight BAC!"® by following these four steps:

1. CLEAN:

Wash your hands and food surfaces often.

faucet

Germs can spread around the kitchen. They get onto kitchen tools, and counters. You can "Fight BAC!"® when you:

  • Wash hands with hot soapy water before you touch food.
  • Wash your cutting boards, dishes, kitchen tools and counter tops with hot soapy water after you fix meat, chicken, and fish and before you use them again.
  • Wash dish cloths often in hot water in the washing machine.

2. SEPARATE FOODS:

Don't cross-contaminate.

separate cutting boards for meat and veggies

Germs can spread from one food to another. You can"Fight BAC!"® when you:

  • Keep raw meat and fish apart from other foods in your shopping cart.
  • Put raw meat, chicken, or fish below other foods in your refrigerator.
  • Use a clean plate for cooked meat or fish.

3. COOK:

Cook foods to safe temperatures.

flame and thermometer

Heat can kill germs that live in food. You can "Fight BAC!"® when you:

  • Cook foods thoroughly.
  • Use a food thermometer to check for doneness.
  • Cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm.
  • When you cook in a microwave oven, stir and rotate food. Heat the food all the way through.
Raw Food Temperature for doneness
Beef, pork, veal, lamb roasts and steaks:
medium 160° F
well-done 170° F
Chicken, whole & pieces 165° F
Ground beef, veal, lamb, pork 160° F
Ground chicken, turkey 165° F
Ham and sausage, fresh 160° F
Stuffing, cooked separately 165° F
Whole turkey, unstuffed 165° F

4. CHILL:

Refrigerate food promptly.

refrigerator

Cold temperatures slow the growth of harmful bacteria. Set your refrigerator at or below 40° F and the freezer at 0° F. You can "Fight BAC!"® when you:

  • Split leftovers into small amounts and put them in the refrigerator to cool within two hours.
  • Marinate foods in the refrigerator.
  • Thaw food in the refrigerator (not at room temperature). You can also thaw food under cold running water or in the microwave. Cook thawed foods immediately.

Do You "Fight BAC?" ® Test Yourself!

Take the "Fight BAC"® Challenge!
(Answers below)

Check your own safe food habits. Write your number next to each statement.

  1. The number of seconds it takes you to wash your hands: ______
  2. The temperature of your refrigerator: ______
  3. The temperature of your chicken when it is cooked: ______
  4. The temperature of your leftovers after being refrigerated for 2 hours: ______

Find the Food Safety Mistakes!
(Answers below)
Adapted from Keeping Food Safe, University of Wisconsin Extension, 1993.

food safety puzzle:find the mistakes

ARE YOU A BAC FIGHTER?

  Circle the answer that best describes how often you:
1. Wash hands with soap and water after handling raw meat or poultry. Never Sometimes Always
2. Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counter tops between uses. Never Sometimes Always
3. Use a separate, clean plate for meat, poultry and fish after it has been cooked. Never Sometimes Always
4. Thaw foods in the refrigerator. Never Sometimes Always
5. Use a thermometer to check
cooked food for doneness.
Never Sometimes Always
6. Refrigerate or freeze
leftovers in 2 hours.
Never Sometimes Always
7. Divide foods into
small amounts to cool.
Never Sometimes Always
8. Use separate spoons for
tasting and cooking.
Never Sometimes Always

If you circled "Always" 7 or more times you are a Fantastic BAC Fighter! Congratulations! If you circled "Always" 5 or 6 times, you can still be a better BAC Fighter. If you circled "Always" 4 or fewer times, you may be letting BAC win the fight!

How Well Did You Do on the "Fight BAC"® Challenge?

Compare your measurements to the food safety tips below.

  1. Clean - your hands for 20 seconds.
  2. Chill - foods in your refrigerator at 40°F.
  3. Cook - chicken and other poultry to 165°F.
  4. Chill - leftovers to be at least 70°F after 2 hours, (40°F within 4 hours.)

Answers to: Find the Food Safety Mistakes!

  1. The woman did not use separate spoons for tasting and cooking food.
  2. The woman did not keep her hair back while cooking food.
  3. The can of soup is dented and may be unsafe.
  4. Food packages are open and can attract insects and rodents.
  5. The boy is sneezing and contaminating the chicken.
  6. The chicken is dripping juices and contaminating things in the drawer.
  7. The chicken is not kept chilled in the refrigerator.
  8. The milk is not kept chilled in the refrigerator.
  9. The baby did not have his/her hands washed after touching the pet and before eating a snack.
  10. The cup of spilled milk will need to be washed before the baby drinks from it.
  11. The cereal box under the sink is not stored in a dry place.
  12. The trash is not covered and has not been emptied before it attracted flies.
  • Food Safety
    in the Home
  • Food Safety
    in the Workplace
  • Clean
  • Separate
  • Cook and Chill
  • All food safety education materials are consistent with Massachusetts Department of Public Health, 
    Food Protection Program, FDA and USDA regulations and messages.

    Developed for the Massachusetts Partnership for Food Safety Education by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and University of Massachusetts Extension Nutrition Education Program. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, an Affirmative Action employer, is committed to ensuring that all of its programs and facilities are accessible to all members of the public. We do not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, national origin, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.