When you sit down to eat a meal or begin preparing one, the last thing that you think will happen is that you're going to get food poisoning. However, not taking the proper precautions can leave you with your head in the toilet.
In this article, we're going to talk about how to reduce the likelihood of getting food poisoning. Continue reading to learn some ways you can ensure your food is appropriately cleaned and made ready for consumption.
1. Clean Your Food Properly
During the preparation process, all vegetables, fruit, and anything else that you're going to eat needs to be cleaned.
Certain types of bacteria may have been present during the growing process and, if not cleaned properly, can remain on the outside.
For example, if there are bacteria present on the outside of a watermelon, and it's not cleaned before you cut the fruit, all of the bacteria on the outside have now contaminated the knife. Since the knife is slicing through the watermelon, any bacteria on the knife is now being dragged through the watermelon.
2. Clean Your Utensils
Not only does your food need to be cleaned correctly, the utensils you're using need to be sanitized as well. This means all of your spoons, knives, and cutting boards must be washed thoroughly in hot, soapy water.
However, the most crucial tool that you're going to use during your meal preparation is your hands. So before touching any food, you need to wash your hands. After your hands have been cleaned, wash your cooking utensils.
3. Avoid Cross-Contaminating the Food
Since we just mentioned a cutting board above, it's only befitting that we talk about cross-contamination. Many assume that since everything is going into the same pan, you can use the same utensils to prepare it.
This is not true. When you cut meat on a cutting board, that same cutting board shouldn't be used to cut your vegetables or fruit that are going into the dish.
This goes for your refrigerator as well. All meat should be separated from other foods so that if blood leaks from the packaging, it won't contaminate anything around it.
It would be best if you also refrained from running water over raw meat, because as the water splashes, any bacteria that may have been present on the meat will spread to other surfaces.
4. Don't Refreeze Thawed Meat
You usually use the refrigerator or cold water to thaw your meat. This means that you're heating the meat up just enough to defrost it without cooking it. That said, once you've thawed meat, you shouldn't put it back into the freezer.
It's not recommended that you leave your meat out to thaw because it will cause bacteria to start growing on the outside of the meat. And once the bacteria grow, it stays on the meat even if you've placed it back into the freezer.
When you're ready to use the meat, you may get sick after cooking it.
5. Cook Food at the Right Temperature
One way to avoid getting food poisoning is to ensure that your food is cooked at the right temperature. Undercooked food not only may not taste good, but it can also lead to you getting food poisoning.
Different foods need to be cooked to different internal temperatures to ensure that they've been cooked well. The following shows the internal temperature indicating doneness of each food:
- 160F for ground meats (beef, lamb, pork)
- 165F for chicken and turkey
- 145F for steak and roast
Cook shrimp and crab until they are opaque, and cook clams and oysters until their shells open.
6. Make Sure the Restaurant Is up to Code
Dining out isn't only fun; it's also beneficial when you don't feel like cooking at home. However, you can get food poisoning from a restaurant if you don't take proper precautions when it comes to the restaurant that you choose.
Before eating at a restaurant, ensure that they follow the cleaning standards of the food industry. If you walk into the dining area of a restaurant and it's not clean, and there's food thrown on the floor or unclean tables, you need to reconsider eating at that establishment.
Or if you get a glimpse of the back of the house and see dishes piled high or workers cooking without gloves, then that establishment may not take precautions to ensure the safety of diners.
7. Properly Preserve Leftovers
When you've finished a meal and realize that you have leftovers, you must put them away correctly to preserve the food. All foods that are leftover need to be wrapped in a protective covering, such as Tupperware, and placed in the refrigerator or freezer within two hours after being cooked.
If the temperature in the room is excessively hot, all foods should be refrigerated or frozen within one hour. This will keep bacteria from growing on the outside of the food, making the food inedible for you and your family. Organizing your refrigerator using kitchen hacks may help.
8. Throw Out Food If It Looks Funny
We understand that you don't want to waste money by throwing food out. However, when you notice that the food you're using looks funny or has a distinct scent, the best thing to do is to throw it out.
The color and scent may allude to the fact that the food is rotting, and you should take the warning ahead of time.
What Increases the Likelihood of Getting Food Poisoning
While getting food poisoning can happen at any time, some potential risk factors can increase who is more susceptible to getting food poisoning.
Pregnant women are at a higher risk of food poisoning because of the changes their bodies are going through.
Another risk factor is older individuals. Older people are more susceptible to food poisoning because their immune system has become weakened over time. Therefore, their bodies may not bounce back as quickly as they used to.
Children are at a higher risk of contracting food poisoning because, until a certain age, their immune systems haven't developed fully yet. This is why children are on a vaccination schedule to ensure that by the time they are of age to attend school, their immune systems will be equipped to withstand anything.
Types of Contaminants
Many types of contaminants can cause food poisoning. Each contaminant has its period in which the person that's ingested them will begin to notice the onset of the symptoms that cause them to become ill.
The first and one of the most talked-about bacteria is E.coli, and this can be found in beef that has been contaminated during the killing process. It spreads when the meat has not been cooked correctly.
Another bacteria that's harmful to people is Listeria, and its typically found in deli meats and unpasteurized cheeses. Before consuming deli meats, including hot dogs, cook the meat until it's done and always purchase cheese that has been marked as pasteurized on the outside of the packaging.
Salmonella is a bacteria that can be found in undercooked eggs and meat. The way that this bacteria is spread is through cross-contamination, when the same utensils that are used for cooking meat are also used to prepare and cut vegetables.
Always make sure that you're not using the same tools that you use on raw meat to prepare other foods. This will reduce the likelihood of contaminating your food and causing food poisoning for you and your family.
When You Should Visit the Doctor
While food poisoning will eventually pass on its own, there are some cases that may require immediate medical attention. If you vomit excessively and are unable to keep any food down, it may be a sign that it's time to schedule a doctor's appointment or visit urgent care.
Another sign that you need to see your physician is blood in your vomit or feces. This could be a sign that your food poisoning is turning into something more severe than you'd initially thought.
If you begin to run a fever and nothing you do will break it, your doctor may be able to give you a physical exam and find a solution to it. If you begin experiencing dizziness and muscle weakness, then your doctor needs to be alerted to find out what's wrong and relieve you of these symptoms.
Do You Have Food Poisoning?
Hopefully, the tips we provided above will help you take the precautions necessary to avoid contracting food poisoning. Remember that keeping your food clean and not contaminating things will reduce the likelihood of becoming ill.
If you found this article to be helpful, we encourage you to read some of the other articles posted on our website. We always appreciate you for reading our carefully crafted posts.