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Health Department

Food Protection

The Do’s and Don’ts of Food Storage,
Separation and Segregation and Packaging

Brochure (PDF 81 KB)

Food Storage

Proper food storage is important to prevent contamination, spoilage, and the growth of pathogens that cause foodborne illness.

Do store food

  • In a clean and dry place
  • In places that will prevent contamination from splash, dust, or other contaminants.
  • At least six inches above the floor
  • In the original packaging or in an approved covered container or wrapping

Don't store food

  • Near chemicals or cleaning products
  • In non-food grade containers such as grocery bags, garbage bags, or used cardboard.

Separation and Segregation

Separation of raw animal foods and raw unprepared vegetables from ready-to-eat foods or foods that will not be cooked is important to prevent foodborne illness and cross contamination.

Do

  • Wash your hands after working with raw food and before touching ready-to-eat food.
  • Clean and sanitize food-contact surfaces (equipment and utensils) that touch raw food before they come in contact with cooked or ready-to-eat food.
  • Keep fruits and vegetables that have not been washed separated from ready-to-eat foods.
  • Separate raw meat, poultry, fish, and eggs and store them below prepared or ready-to-eat foods.
  • Store damaged or spoiled food away from other foods and food equipment.
  • Clean and sanitize wiping cloths between each use.

Don't

  • Allow raw food to touch or drip fluids onto cooked or ready-to-eat food.
  • Use the same cutting board, dishes, utensils, or knives for raw foods and cooked or ready-to-eat foods.

Packaging

Packaging that is intact and in good condition will help prevent pathogens, dust, vermin, or chemicals that may be present on the outside of the containers from entering the food.

Do

  • Clean visible soil from hermetically sealed containers before opening.
  • Protect food containers that are received packaged together in a case or overwrap from cuts when the case or overwrap is opened.
  • Place raw foods in sealed or covered containers during storage.

Don't

  • Use damaged or bulging cans, or jars that are cracked or have loose bulging lids.

Summary

  • Proper food storage, separation and segregation, and packaging are all important steps in protecting food and preventing foodborne illness.
  • Practice proper top-to-bottom storage of raw and prepared foods in the refrigerator and freezer.
  • Raw shell eggs should always be stored below cooked and ready to eat food.