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Some Ways to Prevent Food Poisoning
In order for everyone to do a better job in preventing food poisoning, the first step needs to be communicating with each other. It shouldn’t matter what level you are operating on. With so many cases of food poisoning – approximately 48 million per year in the United States – it should be a high priority to avoid it. Food poisoning can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere. Take some time to learn about the prevention of food poisoning to lessen the chances that you or your loved ones will be included in this statistic.
Be Vigilant about Washing Your Hands and All Surfaces
Cleanliness in food preparation is an absolute must. When working with food, you should wash your hands thoroughly before and after food preparation. Wash them properly, for at least 20 seconds with very warm water and soap.
Wash all surfaces thoroughly before use, in order to prevent contamination by anything that may have touched them since their last use. If you are unsure whether they are fully clean, it is better to spend a few extra minutes washing them again than to take any chances.
Know Who Is Preparing and Cooking Your Food
It is easy to control what goes on in your own kitchen. It is entirely another story when it comes to eating out, or eating at friends’ houses. Keep an eye on their food preparation habits, and don’t be afraid to turn down any foods that were not handled properly, even if you risk offending someone.
Cook Food Thoroughly
Always cook food properly. It must be cooked to a certain temperature, and for a certain amount of time. Follow the rules and don’t experiment when it comes to food safety.
Don’t Leave Food Sitting Out
When you have finished eating, put the leftovers away immediately. When you remove something from the fridge or freezer in order to use it, put it back as soon as you are finished. Don’t allow food to sit around, being exposed to temperatures that make it easy for bacteria to grow.
When you are storing foods, keep raw meats away from fresh produce. In the freezer, don’t set bags of frozen food close to ice cube trays, because this may contaminate the ice cubes when they touch each other. Don’t use utensils for one food and then another. Each food has its own rules about how long it needs to be cooked, so keep dishes and utensils separate and free of cross-contamination.
Don’t Take Chances
Some of us are terrified of being wasteful. Being overly cautious of this, however, can lead to poor choices when it comes to food safety.
If you can’t remember what day you originally ate your leftovers, and they might be more than three days old, throw them away. If a food smells slightly rancid, throw it away. If a food has a “best before” date that has already passed, throw it away.
Never take chances on your health, or that of your family. It is better to lose a few dollars by throwing food away, than to end up in hospital in severe pain.
Food poisoning is a common illness, but it does not have to happen to you. Simply learn these tips on how to prevent it. Enjoy preparing and cooking your food in a healthy, happy way.
Six Food Safety Myths
Food safety is highly important. By following food safety rules, you will have a better chance of staying healthy and preventing food-borne illness.
There are many myths floating around that give people false ideas about food safety. Knowledge is power, so here are some of the main myths so that you can avoid them and the consequences of following them.
1. It Is Ok to Keep Food Out Longer Than Two Hours
Although some people make a meal, leave it out during the entire meal and then don’t clean up for several hours after, this is not a good practice. The general rule is that at normal room temperature, you must put food away after two hours or else throw it out. If it is extremely warm, the safe time period is one hour only.
2. You Will Know If Food Has Gone Bad by Its Smell, Look or Taste
Food that has gone bad is not always obvious. Although some food develops a bad smell or mold, not all food does. Always use the rules that state a certain time that the food will remain in good condition, instead of relying on your senses.
3. Thawing Meat at Room Temperature Can Be Safe
Many a mother and grandmother thaw their Thanksgiving turkey or hamburger meat on the countertop. Just because some manage to do it and not get sick, though, does not mean the risks are not there. Always thaw meat in the fridge, even if it means having to think ahead and taking it out earlier.
4. Rinsing Raw Meat Is Helpful in Eliminating Bacteria
Many people still rinse their raw meat before cooking it. This is more of a habit than a helpful practice, though. Rinsing meat doesn’t magically wash away bacteria, and washing it can even spread the germs around as the water splashes against it, making the situation worse.
5. Foods That Are Not Animal Products Can’t Do Much Harm
Cross-contamination can happen in naturally occurring bacteria of fruits and vegetables, which is why your produce tray should always be washed regularly. Rice that is kept at room temperature for too long after being cooked can become dangerous when bacillus cereus spores grow, producing a toxin that causes illness. Although animal products contain plenty of harmful microorganisms within, other foods contain them as well.
6. Food Is Fine until the “Best Before” Date
Although a “best before” date is given as a general rule, a general rule is all it is. Some foods go bad faster, depending on storage and other factors. This is why the milk you bought that doesn’t expire for another few days might be sour when you open it up.
Food that is opened and then left can also go bad more quickly than when it was sealed. It can also work in the other direction, though, as some packaged dry goods last longer than the “best before” date advertised – they may simply begin to lose their nutrients at that time.
There are many food safety myths floating around. Knowing the facts can prevent both food waste and sickness. Learn them now and never wonder whether your food is safe again.