A lot of people don’t realize the importance of proper food safety techniques, leading to the potential risk of food poisoning. But according to Dr. David Majzlin, associate professor of clinical emergency medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, understanding and following the right steps can help you prevent the illness and keep yours and your family’s health in check. “Food safety is a global issue and is unfortunately something that is easy to take for granted,” says Dr. Majzlin. Here are the steps he recommends for avoiding food poisoning: 1. Shop Smart: Make sure to cool your food right away once you get it home from the store. Separate meats from fruits and vegetables. And don’t let raw meat, seafood, and poultry come into contact with other food items. 2. Sanitize: Wipe down your counters and other surfaces with a sanitizing solution before and after food prep. Cleaning your hands is especially important as it is the #1 way to spread germs. 3. Prepare: Thaw food slowly in the refrigerator, not the countertop. To reduce the risk of cross-contamination, use a clean set of cutting boards for different types of food. 4. Cook: Use food thermometers to make sure you cook food to the right temperature. Beef, pork, poultry, and eggs all need to reach a certain temperature to kill bacteria. 5. Store: Refrigerate leftovers quickly within two hours of cooking. If you’re planning on taking them to work or school, be sure to keep them cold in a travel cooler with freezing containers or packs. Dr. Majzlin emphasizes how important these steps are for avoiding food poisoning. “Staying vigilant and following the recommended food safety practices will help prevent the potential for food-borne illness,” he says.