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How to Prevent Food Poisoning

With so many cases of food poisoning - approximately 48 million per year in the United States - it should be a high priority to avoid it. Food poisoning can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere. Take some time to learn about the prevention of food poisoning to lessen the chances that you or your loved ones will be included in this statistic.

1. Be Vigilant about Washing Your Hands and All Surfaces

Cleanliness in food preparation is an absolute must. When working with food, you should wash your hands thoroughly before and after food preparation. Wash them properly, for at least 20 seconds with very warm water and soap.

Wash all surfaces thoroughly before use, in order to prevent contamination by anything that may have touched them since their last use. If you are unsure whether they are fully clean, it is better to spend a few extra minutes washing them again than to take any chances.

2. Know Who Is Preparing and Cooking Your Food

It is easy to control what goes on in your own kitchen. It is entirely another story when it comes to eating out, or eating at friends’ houses. Keep an eye on their food preparation habits, and don’t be afraid to turn down any foods that were not handled properly, even if you risk offending someone.

3. Cook Food Thoroughly

Always cook food properly. It must be cooked to a certain temperature, and for a certain amount of time. Follow the rules and don’t experiment when it comes to food safety.

4. Don’t Leave Food Sitting Out

When you have finished eating, put the leftovers away immediately. When you remove something from the fridge or freezer in order to use it, put it back as soon as you are finished. Don’t allow food to sit around, being exposed to temperatures that make it easy for bacteria to grow.

5. Avoid Cross-Contamination

When you are storing foods, keep raw meats away from fresh produce. In the freezer, don’t set bags of frozen food close to ice cube trays, because this may contaminate the ice cubes when they touch each other. Don’t use utensils for one food and then another. Each food has its own rules about how long it needs to be cooked, so keep dishes and utensils separate and free of cross-contamination.

6. Don’t Take Chances

Some of us are afraid of being wasteful. Being overly cautious of this, however, can lead to poor choices when it comes to food safety.

If you can’t remember what day you originally ate your leftovers, and they might be more than three days old, throw them away. If a food smells slightly rancid, throw it away. If a food has a “best before” date that has already passed, throw it away.

Never take chances on your health, or that of your family. It is better to lose a few dollars by throwing food away, than to end up in hospital in severe pain.

Food poisoning is a common illness, but it doesn't have to happen to you. Simply learn these tips on how to prevent it. Enjoy preparing and cooking your food in a healthy, happy way.