How to prevent foodborne illnesses
Every year, an estimated 48 million people in the U.S. experience a foodborne illness. Fortunately, with good kitchen practices, you can prevent foodborne illnesses from attacking your family.
A foodborne illness affects the gastrointestinal tract and is caused by food or drinks that contain harmful bacteria. Though the illness typically lasts a short time, the symptoms are nasty: vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever and chills. Brace yourself against harmful bacteria every time you handle food:
Keep your hands clean
- Wash your hands often, especially after using the bathroom, after changing a baby or having handling a pet or pet/items.
- Wash your hands before and after handling food.
- Wash your hands when moving from one food prep item to another.
Maintain a clean kitchen
- Wash countertops and other kitchen surfaces before and after food preparation.
- Always wash meats and poultry before preparing.
- Wash all produce, paying particular attention to those that will be eaten raw.
- Wash your sink and faucet after cleaning your food prep surfaces.
- Protect your kitchen and food from insects, pests and animals.
Handle raw food with care
- Separate raw eggs, meat, poultry and seafood from each other and from other foods.
- Wash utensils and cutting board when moving from one food to another.
- Utilize containers and baggies to avoid contact between raw and cooked foods.
Cook foods thoroughly
- Use safe or treated water for cooking.
- Make sure foods — particularly eggs, meat, poultry and seafood — are cooked thoroughly. Meat and poultry juices should be clear, not pink.
- Bring soups and stews to a full boil to ensure that they’ve reached the appropriate temperature.
- Reheat cooked food thoroughly.
- Serve cooked foods hot.
Refrigerate fresh and cooked foods
- Refrigerate cooked and perishable foods promptly — do not leave them at room temperature for more than two hours. Refrigerate even sooner in warm temperatures.
- Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator. Do not thaw at room temperature.
- Be aware of purchase dates. Cook meat and poultry within three days of purchasing or removing from freezer.
- Be aware of expiration dates. Do not use products after their expiry date.
- Do not store foods— cooked or raw — for too long, even when refrigerated