Food Safety

Food Safety is Important

 1 in 6  people gets food poisoning. CDC Vital Signs™:

Union County Health Department (UCHD) takes food safety seriously. The CDC estimates that each year, 1 in 6 Americans gets sick by eating or drinking contaminated foods or drinks. That adds up to 48 million people resulting in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths from food poisoning, also called foodborne illnesses every year! The majority of foodborne illnesses are preventable and harmful effects range from flu-like symptoms to hospitalization or even death.

Click here for Food Safety for Operators

Here at Union County Health Department we work hard to prevent and respond to food safety issues. 

Because no one wants foodborne bacteria as a dinner guest!


Protect those you love by following safe food practices at home:


FoodSafe Box logo for "Clean"CLEAN: Wash hands and surfaces often.

Illness-causing bacteria can survive in many places around your kitchen, including your hands, utensils, and cutting boards.

  • Wash hands the right way—for 20 seconds with soap and running water. Be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Wash surfaces and utensils after each use. Rinsing utensils, countertops, and cutting boards with water won’t do enough to stop bacteria from spreading. Clean utensils and small cutting boards with hot, soapy water. Clean surfaces and cutting boards with a bleach solution.
  • Wash fruits and veggies—but not meat, poultry, or eggs. Even if you plan to peel fruits and veggies, it’s important to wash them first because bacteria can spread from the outside to the inside as you cut or peel them. logo for "Separate"SEPARATE: Don't cross-contaminate.

Even after you’ve cleaned your hands and surfaces thoroughly, raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can still spread illness-causing bacteria to ready-to-eat foods—unless you keep them separate. logo for "Cook"COOK: Cook to the right temperature.

While many people think they can tell when food is “done” simply by checking its color and texture, there’s no way to be sure it’s safe without following a few important but simple steps.

  • Use a food thermometer. Make sure food reaches its safe minimum cooking temperature. For example, internal temperatures should be 145°F for whole meats (allowing the meat to rest for 3 minutes before carving or eating), 160°F for ground meats, and 165°F for all poultry. Eggs should be cooked until the yolk is firm.
  • During meal times, while food is being served and eaten, keep it hot (at 140 ˚F or above). After meals are over, refrigerate leftover food quickly.
  • Microwave food thoroughly (to 165 ˚F). logo for "Chill"CHILL: Refrigerate promptly.

Illness-causing bacteria can grow in many foods within two hours unless you refrigerate them. (During the summer heat, cut that time down to one hour.)



woman reporting foodborne illness on phoneREPORT: If you believe you or someone you know became ill from eating a certain food, please contact your local health department.

Health departments are an important part of the food safety system which rely on calls from concerned citizens. You can be an important part of discovering what foods made you and others sick.

  • If a public health official contacts you to find out more about an illness you had, your cooperation is important. Be willing to be interviewed about the foods you ate before you got sick; share your store receipts and give permission for stores to share the list of food you purchased from their store; and allow investigators to come to your home to collect any leftover food you may have.
  • In public health investigations, it can be as important to talk to healthy people as to ill people. Even if you are not ill, be willing to be interviewed about the foods you ate during a certain period of time.
  • REMEMBER: It's not usually the last meal you ate that made you sick. Foodborne pathogens usually require incubation times of 12-72 hours. 

For more information on preventing foodborne illnesses, please visit, the federal gateway for food safety information.

Content provided by the CDC and



*This September, UCHD is joining forces with forces with the National Restaurant Association, the Ad Council and the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, in partnership with the FDA and CDC to increase awareness of food safety in both food service establishments and homes in Union County.

 Look out for promotional ads throughout the community targeting consumers and food operators to be mindful of safe food handling practices and procedures. Continue to check our website as we keep you updated on ways to reduce your family's risk of foodborne illness.



Who's at Risk for Foodborne Illness- Know who in your family has the greatest danger of foodborne illness and take extra precautions. 

Produce- An apple a day keeps the doctor away..." be mindful of safe food practices when you enjoy your favorite fruit or vegetable. 

Home Canning- Up to date procedures  to ensure a high-quality, safe product that you and your family can enjoy.