Don’t Be a Spoil Sport

An unsavory memory for most us, almost everyone has experienced food poisoning. We're quick to blame Aunt Joan's cooking or that of a restaurant, but in truth, most cases of food borne illnesses occur when food is prepared at home.

If food is handled and prepared safely, most potential hazards can be avoided.

All food might contain some natural bacteria, and improper handling gives the bacteria a chance to grow. Also, food can be contaminated with bacteria from other sources that can make you ill. It is important to remember that contaminated or unclean food can be especially dangerous to young children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems. Here are four tips you can use to prevent contaminating food.

Use caution when you buy your food.
  • Buy perishable food such as meat, eggs, and milk last.
  • Avoid raw or unpasteurized milk.
  • Because eggs, meat, seafood, and poultry are most likely to contain bacteria, do not allow their juices to drip on other food.
  • In your errands list, shop for groceries last so that they do not spoil in a hot car.

Store your food properly.
  • Store eggs, raw meat, poultry, and seafood in the refrigerator.
  • Use containers to prevent contaminating other foods or kitchen surfaces.
  • Your refrigerator should be set at 40° F.
  • Your freezer should be set at 0° F.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect the refrigerator and freezer.

Use special precautions when preparing and cooking food.
  • Wash your hands and clean and disinfect kitchen surfaces before, during, and after handling, cooking, and serving food.
  • Wash raw fruits and vegetables before eating them.
  • Defrost frozen food on a plate either in the refrigerator or in a microwave, but not on the counter.
  • Cook food immediately after defrosting.
  • Use different dishes and utensils for raw foods than you use for cooked foods.

Cool and promptly store leftovers after food has been served.
  • Because harmful bacteria grow at room temperature, keep hot food hot at 140° F or higher, and keep cold food cold at 40° F or cooler. This is especially important during picnics and buffets when food can be left sitting for periods of time.
  • Do not leave perishable foods out for more than two hours.
  • Promptly refrigerate or freeze leftovers in shallow containers or wrapped tightly in bags.

Much food safety comes down to common sense, but when in doubt, throw it out. It is far cheaper to throw out bad food than it is to pay expensive medical bills or miss work.

Source: The Centers for Disease Control