10 Ways To Prevent Foodborne Illness
Foodborne illness, also known as food poisoning, results from contaminated food. Many different kinds of contaminants can cause food to be unsafe to eat, and it’s essential to understand how they can affect your health and what you can do to avoid getting sick. These ten tips on preventing foodborne illness will help you live a healthier life while staying safe at the dinner table.
1) Wash hands before preparing food
Hands are one of the most common sources of germs and washing them before you prepare your family’s meals is crucial in preventing many forms of food poisoning. The recommends using warm water and soap, passing for 20 seconds with hot water and scrubbing hands thoroughly.
Washing with alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be an easy alternative if you don’t have time to wash your hands with soap but remember, it’s not a substitute for handwashing.
While it might seem like overkill in terms of cleanliness, running your utensils under hot water can also help kill bacteria and ensure that nothing at dinner gives anyone a nasty surprise later on.
2) Wash hands with soap in between handling raw meat and cooked meat
Cooking your meat thoroughly means destroying bacteria, but if you’re not extra careful with cross-contamination when handling raw and cooked meat (you don’t want raw meat juices getting on surfaces that will come into contact with cooked meat), your meal can still be spoiled.
Wash your hands in hot soapy water handling raw and cooked meats to prevent contamination. And don’t forget to wash those cutting boards!
Doing so can kill up to 99 percent of harmful germs like salmonella, E. coli, campylobacter, and staphylococcus aureus.
3) Store raw meat on the bottom shelf in the refrigerator
The cold temperature at which meat and dairy are refrigerated is required to remain safe. But it’s also a good idea to store raw meat on its bottom in your refrigerator.
That’s because bacteria can quickly form on surfaces within refrigerators. They’re more likely to land on top of meats than anywhere else (they’ll fall off when you move or remove items).
If you happen to come across any dirty or suspicious spots, scrub them off before letting your meat come into contact with them. Also, avoid storing raw meats near other foods, as cross-contamination can spread bacteria from one item (or surface)to another.
4) Don’t use plates, knives, or forks that have been in contact with raw meat/fish/eggs
Any pathogen, including salmonella and E. coli, can survive on surfaces like these for several hours.
So don’t think that just because you used a clean fork from your plate, it’s okay to transfer that same fork onto your salad without washing it your salad will have contact time with that piece of cutlery.
Wash your hands: This is one of the easiest and most important measures you can take. The key here is using soap: water alone won’t do much against all those nooks and crannies on your skin where bacteria like to hide out.
5) Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator
It would help if you thawed it in a refrigerator while defrosting meat or poultry in your kitchen. This is because bacteria can grow when foods are left at room temperature.
And don’t be tempted to put them in hot water; while they may appear thawed after 30 minutes, they can still contain bacteria. Hot water thawing also makes cooked foods too warm and increases the risk of undercooking.
Your goal should be to keep cold foods cold and hot or hot foods (between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F). Anything outside these temperatures creates conditions for bacteria growth.
6) cook whole cuts of meat at low temperatures until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit (62.8 degrees Celsius)
Searing meat at high temperatures and then cooking it quickly at low temperatures is an excellent way to keep it juicy, but that doesn’t matter if you end up with E. coli or salmonella.
Using whole cuts of meat, use a meat thermometer to ensure your meats are properly cooked. The internal temperature of steaks should be 145 degrees Fahrenheit (62.8 degrees Celsius), and chicken thighs should reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit (73.9 degrees Celsius).
If you’re grilling burgers, cook them until they’re done on one side before flipping; since they’ve been resting on their juices, these will carry some bacteria from raw beef that won’t get killed in your grill if you flip them too early.
7) Cook ground meats to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71.1 degrees Celsius)
Although rare in America, all meat should be cooked thoroughly. Ground meats are more complicated to cook than whole cuts of meat because it’s impossible to get an accurate temperature reading.
As a rule of thumb, ground beef should be cooked for five minutes per side for medium-rare (135 degrees Fahrenheit or 57 degrees Celsius) and seven minutes per side for well done (160 degrees Fahrenheit or 71.1 degrees Celsius).
Ground poultry, pork and lamb should be cooked until they reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74.8 degrees Celsius). Since these numbers aren’t exact, it is essential that you use a thermometer while cooking ground meats check multiple points since all meat will cook differently depending on fat content.
8) Marinate meats in the refrigerator
Marinades help tenderize meat, but they also contain acidic ingredients like vinegar or lemon juice that can quickly cause bacteria to grow at room temperature.
To ensure marinades don’t cross-contaminate other foods in your refrigerator, store raw meats on a shelf above cooked and ready-to-eat foods. Also, immediately cook raw meats after bringing them home from the grocery store.
If it’s too late for that and you’re about to lose your mind at dinnertime, cook extra servings of meat before you leave for work each morning so that when you get home from a long day (and busy kitchen), there is something ready for dinner.
9) buy meat from reliable sources
At a restaurant, that’s a pretty easy task; ask where your steak or chicken comes from. If you buy meat from grocery stores, read labels carefully especially if you’re buying frozen beef.
10) Keep kitchen surfaces clean after handling meat
If you handle raw meat, wash your hands and surfaces thoroughly with hot soapy water. If possible, use a separate cutting board or another kitchen surface for preparing hearts.
Raw meat can contain harmful bacteria easily transferred to other foods and kitchen surfaces if not cleaned properly. Cover cooked meat: After cooking meat, be sure to put it in a bowl or container with a cover before putting it in your refrigerator.
As a passionate foodie and professional in your field, you need to stay informed about these issues and educate others. The last thing we want is for people to get sick from bad oysters or spinach because they don’t know how to keep their stomachs safe!