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Nutrition Basics

Food Safety and Storage

Food safety is a top concern, but did you know that the most likely risk of food poisoning is in your refrigerator? Foodborne illnesses occur in private homes three times more frequently than in commercial operations.

Food poisoning culprits in the home include:

  • Improper storage (store foods at temperatures below 40°)
  • Unsafe food handling (cross-contamination of food, unclean non-food items)
  • Lack of cleanliness (unwashed hands after handling raw meat, poultry and seafood)
  • Poor refrigerator maintenance (dirty vent not allowing for good airflow to the condenser.)

Here are some tips to keep your food safe at home.


  • Keep separate cutting boards for fruits and vegetables.
  • Wash all fruits and vegetables with plain water before eating or preparing, even if you plan to peel them. Detergents are not recommended.
  • Store your produce properly for best quality and freshness. Perishable produce should be refrigerated at 40° or below.
    • Keep root vegetables, like potatoes and onions, in a ventilated cool place, not in the refrigerator.
    • Allow tomatoes to ripen at room temperature.
    • Rinse lettuce with cold running water, drain and then refrigerate in clear plastic bags.
    • Fruits such as peaches, pears and melons should ripen at room temperature and then be refrigerated. Refrigerate other fruits like plums, berries and grapes and eat within five days.
    • Wash strawberries right before they’re eaten.
    • Refrigerate citrus fruits and they will last up to two weeks
    • Allow avocadoes and bananas to ripen at room temperature. Bananas will darken if refrigerated.
  • Discard cooked vegetables after three to four days.


  • Always handle meats with clean, dry hands.
  • Store meat in the coldest part of the refrigerator or in the refrigerator's meat bin.
  • Use fresh, raw meats stored in the refrigerator within three to four days of purchase.
  • Throw away ground meats, sausage and organ meats after two days.
  • Freeze meats in freezer-safe wrap at 0°.
  • Cooked meats should be eaten or frozen within three to four days.

For more information on food safety, visit the Southern Nevada Health District's Foodborne Illness external link and Food Safety external link webpages, visit the Home Food Safety external link website or download the USDA’s Basic Food Handling Hand Out. external link PDF

Southern Nevada Health District Link to Website         Viva Saludable    Healthy Southern Nevada