You can’t always blame the takeout you had on your tummy ache. The truth is,” many cases of food poisoning probably come from carelessness in your own home.” Follow these common-sense rules and you’ll significantly decrease your chances of getting food poisoning.
· Wash your hands before preparing food to avoid passing on bacteria such as staphylococcus (commonly found on the skin and in the throat) or shigella (passed from fecal matter). Wash again after handling raw meat and eggs.
· Don’t eat raw protein food like fish, fowl, meat, milk, or eggs. Avoid sushi, oysters on the half shell, Caesar salad made with raw eggs, and unpasteurized eggnog. Don’t use cracked eggs. Raw food can harbor bacteria.
· Heat or chill raw food. Bacteria can’t multiply above 150° or below 40°F.
· Cook meat until the pink disappears, poultry until there are no red joints, and fish until it flakes. Complete cooking is the only way to ensure that all potentially harmful bacteria have been killed.
· Use a meat thermometer, especially when microwaving large meat and fowl. This also ensures that they are cooked thoroughly.
· Don’t taste test the raw pork sausage stew, the fish chowder, or even the cookie batter before it’s done.
· Don’t let raw meat juice drip onto other food. It can taint otherwise harmless food.
· Use a separate chopping board and utensils when handling raw meat and sanitize them with soapy water or bleach after use. It’ll help prevent cross contamination.
· Scrub can openers and countertops and always clean out crevices. It will prevent bacteria from hiding there.
· Replace sponges often and use paper towels to wipe off counters.
· Don’t leave food at room temperature for more than two hours, and avoid eating anything that you suspect may have been unrefrigerated for that long. Bacteria thrive in warm protein food made with meat or eggs, cream-filled pastries, dips, potato salad, and so forth.
· Thaw meat in the refrigerator. Bacteria can multiply on food surfaces while the center is still frozen.
· Immediately refrigerate leftovers, even if they are still hot. Cool down large stews by refrigerating in smaller portions. · Never pick and eat wild mushrooms. Some carry toxins that attach the nervous system and can be deadly. Picking wild mushrooms should be left for the experts.
· Never taste home-canned food before boiling for 20 minutes. If not properly canned, food contains bacteria that can produce a dangerous toxin.
· Don’t taste any food that doesn’t smell or look right. Avoid cracked jars or swollen, dented cans or lids, clear liquids that have turned milky, or cans and jars that spurt or have an “off” odor when opened. They could contain dangerous bacteria. Make sure you discard them carefully so that household pets cannot come in contact with them.