10 Most Overlooked Food Safety Guidelines

In one survey 84 percent of Americans said they were knowledgeable about food safety; yet 38 percent didn’t wash their hands after touching raw chicken. Tetra Images - Jamie Gril/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

You probably think of food poisoning as something that you might pick up at a greasy-spoon diner or an outdoor barbecue stand. But those aren't the only places you might get food poisoning. The way you handle food in your own kitchen – which, unlike a restaurant, doesn't have to conform to health regulations – can just as easily make you sick.

Food poisoning – a generic term for diseases caused by contamination from bacteria and other pathogens – is a serious problem in the U.S. A 2011 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that about 9.4 million get sick from known food pathogens each year. Of that number, nearly 56,000 people become so ill they have to go to the hospital, and 1,351 die.

In one 2014 study, University of California-Davis researchers shot video of 120 ordinary people preparing food at home, and what they saw was pretty alarming. Thirty-eight percent didn't wash their hands after touching raw chicken, and even among those who did, only about 10 percent washed for the recommended 20 seconds; a third neglected to use soap [source: Food Safety News].

The scariest thing of all, though, was that almost all the subjects – 84 percent – saw themselves as being knowledgeable about food safety, and 48 percent said they'd even received formal training on how to handle food [source: Food Safety News].

That tells us that it's a good time for a refresher course on food safety in the kitchen. Here are 10 guidelines that we often overlook, to our own peril.