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Kitchen equipment needed to prepare food safely

These food safety tools help keep food safe and your loved ones healthy.

Food thermometers

Food thermometer in chicken.

Cooking food, especially perishable foods such as meat and poultry, to the proper temperature is the best way to make sure food is safe to eat. Food thermometers are the best tools to check temperatures. Learn more about how to use them and check their accuracy.

  • Instant-read thermometers, either dial or digital, quickly measure the temperature of food near the end of the cooking time and can be used in many thin foods.
  • Oven-safe thermometers remain in the food during cooking. If the thermometer is not left in the food during cooking, it can take as long as one to two minutes to register the correct temperature.
  • Oven-probe-with-cord thermometers include a digital probe that is inserted into the food and attached to a long wire that connects to a base unit outside the oven or grill. Set the desired temperature and the unit beeps when it reaches that temperature.

Appliance thermometers

Refrigerator thermometer.

Buy one for both the refrigerator and freezer. Freezer temperatures should be zero degrees F or lower. The recommended refrigerator temperature is between 32-38 F to keep refrigerated food at 40 F or colder.

Cutting boards and food safety

Research shows that plastic, wooden and glass cutting boards may hide harmful germs. The number of germs depends on the type of board material, grooves in the surface and how the board is cleaned.

Tips for food safety when using cutting boards

Placing colored cutting boards into the dishwasher
  • Choose a cutting board with a smooth, hard surface. It should be approved for contact with food.
  • Replace the cutting board when it has many scratches and grooves.
  • Do not chop vegetables or other ready-to-eat foods on a board that was used for meat, unless you wash it first. If possible, always use different boards for meats than what you use for fruits, vegetables, and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Scrape off any stuck food and scrub all cutting boards completely with hot soapy water after each use. Dishwashers are usually very good cleaners, but thin plastic or wooden boards may be damaged.
  • Sanitize cutting boards with a mixture of one teaspoon of household unscented bleach to 4 cups of water. Flood the board with the mixture. Follow label directions on bleach bottle for how long to soak items in bleach/water solution to sanitize. Do not rinse. Allow to air dry before use.
  • Let cutting boards dry completely before you put it away.
  • Store boards so that they stay clean, dry. Do not store where they could touch raw meat.

Color-coded cutting boards

Prevent cross-contamination by using different colored cutting boards for different foods. For example, cut raw meat, poultry and fish on a red board; prepare raw fruits and vegetables on a green board; and slice bread on a yellow board. Plastic, tempered glass or other non-porous boards are easier to clean and sanitize than wood because you can put them into the dishwasher for better cleaning and sanitizing.

Prevent cross-contamination by using different colored cutting boards for different foods.

A kitchen timer

A timer is a reminder to check if something is done, but it can also be used to remind cooks to put food away. Many cooks leave food out to cool on the counter, only to discover it still sitting there the next morning. Perishable food is not safe if left out more than 2 hours; 1 hour if the temperature is above 90 F.

Colanders and produce brushes

Colander and tomatoes.

Washing and scrubbing fruits and vegetables under running water is important to keeping food safe. Use a produce brush to scrub fruits and vegetables with firm skins to remove dirt and bacteria. An extra colander and produce brush may save time and help prevent cross-contamination. Consider buying them in a variety of sizes.

Suzanne Driessen, Extension educator and William Schafer, emeritus Extension specialist

Reviewed in 2018

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