When grocery shopping, choose meat and poultry that’s in the back of the refrigerated case, so you know it’s cold. Those packages tend to be fresher too, but double-check the expiration date just to be sure. Wrap it in a plastic bag so the juices can’t drip out and contaminate other foods. Place meat in the fridge if you plan on using it within two to three days. If you’re going to be using it later in the week, store it in the freezer.
Don’t wash raw poultry, beef, pork, lamb, or veal before cooking. Rinsing meat under water doesn’t help to decrease your chance of getting food poisoning. Heat is the only thing that can kill bacteria. Washing it only spreads the bacteria around since the water can easily splash to your counter tops, cutting boards, and utensils, which can actually increase your chances of food poisoning.
Eating under cooked meat puts you at risk for ingesting bacteria, so be sure to cook meat to safe temperatures. Cooking meat and poultry to that perfect state of “just right” is not as elusive as it sounds. Too judge when it is done don’t do it by look and feel, it is actually pretty easy to get great results all the time when you use an instant-read thermometer. A thermometer is the only reliable way to measure internal temperature. Factor in carryover cooking, which happens when meat keeps cooking for a few minutes after you remove it from the heat source. Rely on the thermometer for doneness, and save your creativity for seasoning and presentation. Most bacteria are killed once food has been cooked to temps between 140°F and 180°F.
If you’re not sure whether a food has been stored, prepared, or cooked properly, don’t take a chance. If it’s been left out for two or more hours at room temperature or an hour or more in hotter weather, get rid of it. If you’re not sure how long it’s been out, trash it (even if it looks and smells fine).