Take Steps Against Food Poisoning

The technical term is “food-borne illness” but you know it better as “food poisoning.” Most all of us have suffered from it, or know someone who has. People suffering from food poisoning may be asymptomatic or have symptoms ranging from mild intestinal up through bloody diarrhea. In any form, it's hardly ever fun, so here are a few guidelines to follow if you want to avoid this ailment. 

Keep the refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, and the freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.

Cook foods until they are steaming hot, particularly leftovers and “ready-to-eat” foods such as hot dogs.

Wash raw vegetables and fruits thoroughly before eating, especially those that will not be cooked.

Wash your hands, cutting boards, and knives with antibacterial soap and warm to hot water after handling raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs. Use a stone or plastic cutting board, as wooden boards are typically harder to clean.

Breastfeed your baby, not only to minimize her chance of food poisoning, but for a host of other reasons as well.

Avoid eating raw or spoiled meats and eggs. Be certain to check expiration dates on meats and eggs before purchasing, and again before preparing. Don't let juices or drippings from raw meat, poultry, shellfish, or eggs contaminate other foods.

Do not leave eggs, meats, poultry, seafood, or milk for extended periods of time at room temperature. Promptly refrigerate leftovers and food prepared in advance.

Make sure that food from animal sources (meat, dairy, eggs) is cooked thoroughly or pasteurized. Use a thermometer to check the temperature of the food.

Drink only pasteurized juice or cider.

Carefully select and prepare fish and shellfish to ensure quality and freshness.

If you are served an undercooked meat or egg product in a restaurant, send it back for further cooking. Also ask for a new plate.

Avoid unpasteurized milk or foods made from unpasteurized milk.

Do not thaw foods at room temperature. Thaw foods in the refrigerator and use them promptly. Do not refreeze foods once they have been completely thawed.

Be aware of proper home-canning procedures. Instructions on safe home-canning can be obtained from county extension services or from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

If you are ill with diarrhea or vomiting, do not prepare food for others, especially infants, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems, because they are more vulnerable to infection.

Wash hands with soap after handling reptiles, turtles, birds, or after contact with human or pet feces.