Roughly 76 million cases of food poisoning and 5,000 related deaths occur in the United States each year. The elderly, the very young, pregnant women, and people with otherwise weakened immune systems tend to be most vulnerable. So, how can you protect yourself? By washing your hands, keeping raw meat separate, cooking your food thoroughly and throwing out questionable food items you can help avoid contracting foodborne illnesses.
Wash your hands
The National Health Services recommends you wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water (warm or cold) and dry them before handling food, after handling raw food and after touching the trash or trash can. If you happen to touch your pet during the course of cooking, wash your hands immediately afterwards.
Keep Raw Meat Separate
It’s especially important to keep raw meat away from ready-to-eat foods, such as salad, fruit and bread. This is because these foods won’t be cooked before you eat them, so any bacteria that get onto the foods from the raw meat won’t be killed.
Cook Food Thoroughly
The National Health Services websites explains that you should make sure poultry, pork, burgers, sausages and kebabs are cooked until steaming hot. There should be no pink meat inside. Do not wash raw meat (including chicken and turkey) before cooking, as this can spread bacteria around your kitchen. Freezing raw chicken reduces the levels of campylobacter bacteria but doesn’t eliminate them completely. The safest way to kill all traces of campylobacter is by cooking chicken thoroughly.
When in Doubt, Throw it Out
Health.com writes that even if you’ve purchased, cleaned, and cooked everything properly, leftovers can still be a source of foodborne bacteria. Don’t leave food out longer than two hours, refrigerate it in containers less than two inches deep, and use or freeze all leftovers before four days. And don’t risk eating questionable leftovers. Contaminated food may not smell or look bad, but if you suspect something has sat out too long, has crossed paths with raw meat, or has been in the fridge for more than four days, toss it, don’t taste it.
No one wants to get food poisoning. By adhering to the above advice, you can do your best to avoid it!