Be Food Safe

4 Steps to Food Safety: Clean! Separate! Cook! Chill!

Clean. Separate. Cook. Chill.

Do you know how to keep food safe at home? The easy lessons of “Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill" will help you protect your family from foodborne illness and teach them how to be food safe.

Foodborne illness is a serious public health threat and all of us are susceptible. Consider the numbers: Each year, approximately 48 million cases of foodborne illness occur in the United States alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those cases of foodborne illness, more than 128,000 people are hospitalized and approximately 3,000 people die. That is why it is critical that people understand the dangers of foodborne bacteria.

While everyone is at risk for foodborne illness, there are those that face a higher risk if they consume unsafe food. At-risk persons include the very young, older adults, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems. These food safety steps are especially important for them, and the messages of the Be Food Safe campaign can be a life saver.

But the last line of defense against foodborne illness is in our own kitchens. The four basic safe food handling behaviors – clean, separate, cook, and chill – will keep our food safe. Food safety risks at home are common. Learn more about each of these steps:


Wash hands and utensils to avoid spreading bacteria when preparing food. Find out how to prepare food in a sanitary way.


Use different cutting boards for meat, poultry, seafood, and veggies. Learn more about the importance of separating foods during preparation.


You can’t tell it’s done by how it looks! Use a food thermometer. Find out how to ensure your food is cooked thoroughly.


Keep the fridge at 40 °F or below to keep bacteria from growing. Learn more about proper chilling.


Plus: 6 Tips for Food Safety on the Grill

Learn the basics of food safety in this 30-second video.

Contact Us

Public Counters:
Mon. Fri.
8 a.m. 4 p.m.  

  • 10777 Main Street, Fairfax, VA 22030
  • Main Phone: 703-246-2444
  • Fax: 703-653-9448
  • Send an Email

Important Links

Facebook icon Twitter icon
Join us on
Facebook and Twitter.

Contact Fairfax County: Phone, Email or Twitter | Main Address: 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035
Technical Questions: Web Administrator

ADA Accessibility | Website Accessibility
Awards | FOIA | Mobile | Using this Site | Web Disclaimer & Privacy Policy | Get Adobe Reader
Official site of the County of Fairfax, Virginia, © Copyright 2015

Website Feedback Website Feedback    Globe with various flags representing Web site language translations   Language Translations

Return to Graphic Version