Food poisoning is something that many people only read or hear about in the news, but it’s actually a common problem. In most cases, you will likely experience only minor discomforts that last a day or two that you can weather at home. However, there are also instances of food poisoning that can cause severe reactions that might require hospitalization.
There’s only so much you can do to reduce the risk of food poisoning when you dine outside. At home, however, there are a lot of measures you can take to avoid getting sick. Here are some tips to follow to better protect yourself from food poisoning.
1. Wash Your Hands Properly
Washing your hands is one of the best ways to avoid food poisoning and to avoid getting sick and spreading diseases in general. You can use either warm or cold water, but make sure to scrub thoroughly with soap (the soap doesn’t need to be antibacterial). Don’t forget to wash the spaces between your fingers, and also to inspect under your fingernails if there’s any debris. Make sure to wash your hands before and after handling food, especially raw food like meat, eggs, and vegetables. Obviously, you should also make sure your hands are thoroughly washed after going to the toilet, blowing your nose, and touching the garbage bin. If you have pets, you should also wash your hands after you touch them before handling anything else.
2. Ensure the Freshness of Products
Cooking with fresh products greatly minimizes the risk of food poisoning. This is especially true if you’re preparing dishes that involve meat and poultry, fish, eggs, as well as vegetables. Purchase your fresh products from trusted supermarkets and grocers to further ensure the quality. When it comes to eggs, don’t throw the packaging away after purchasing or at least take note of the expiration dates. Do note that eggs can last longer than their expiration dates if they are stored properly in the refrigerator.
3. Don’t Drink Unpasteurised Milk
If you drink dairy milk, make sure to only drink pasteurized products. Pasteurization kills the bacteria in the milk and also extends shelf life. When it comes to cheese, pasteurized, processed, and hard cheeses are generally much safer than soft ones.
4. Don’t Wash Meat Before You Cook Them
There are some people who have the habit of washing meat and poultry before cooking. However, this practice is actually a good way of spreading bacteria. Do away with this bad habit! Just make sure to cook the food thoroughly to kill microorganisms in the meat.
5. Wash Your Countertops
Make sure to wash your countertops first before you prepare food, and then again after cooking. This is especially important if the food you prepared included raw meat and poultry, fish, and eggs. As with washing your hands, there’s no need for antibacterial soap. However, make sure to use hot water when washing and rinsing countertops. If you’re concerned about odors, using regular white vinegar and baking soda can help.
6. Use Two Chopping Boards and Wash Them Properly
One of the best ways to avoid contamination when cooking is to use separate chopping boards. Use one to prepare raw food and another for ready-to-eat foods. Plastic is better for raw food since wooden cutting boards are porous and can be difficult to clean when they get tiny cuts on the surface. Again, use hot soapy water in washing your cutting boards.
7. Store Raw Food Separately
Raw food like meat and poultry should be stored in separate covered containers. If possible, place them on a bottom shelf or the freezer of your refrigerator where they won’t touch or drip their juices onto other food items. Do note that freezing raw meat can reduce the levels of bacteria, but also doesn’t completely eliminate them. As mentioned earlier, the best way to kill bacteria in meat and poultry is to cook them thoroughly.
8. Don’t Overfill the Fridge
Keeping your refrigerator full to the brim, even after you’ve set it on the correct cooling temperature, can cause the growth of bacteria. This is because the air can’t circulate properly. Too many foods and containers can also affect the temperature inside your refrigerator. This highlights the importance of storing only reasonable amounts of food in your refrigerator and avoid overfilling it.
9. Don’t Ignore Expiry Dates
Expiration dates aren’t recommendations. They’re based on scientific tests that were conducted in order to figure out the speed in which bacteria can grow and develop in packaged food. If the food is already past its expiration date, don’t eat it. It might still look or smell fine, but chances are high that harmful organisms have already started to develop.
It’s easy to avoid food poisoning if you know what to do. Accidents can still happen no matter how careful you are, but you’ll have more peace of mind knowing that you’ve done all you can to minimize risks.
About The Author:
Briana Jones is a digital marketer from the Philippines. She is passionate about living a healthy lifestyle and finding ways to achieve modern comforts in a sustainable manner. In her free time, you can find her prepping meals in the kitchen or exploring new running routes in the neighborhood. She also loves traveling.