The holidays are quickly approaching. Let’s focus on Food Safety. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 48 million people or 1 in 6 Americans will get food poisoning annually. This means your odds of contracting some form of food poisoning is pretty good. Severe food poisoning causes 5000 deaths per year. Under-cooked meat, particularly poultry is the largest culprit. If you look at the symptoms of food poisoning they can mimic the stomach flu- nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain or cramps, diarrhea, fatigue, low-grade fever and muscle pain. More specifically some food borne illness can be further specified: Norovirus, Salmonella, Listeria, E. Coli to name a few. There may be occasions you thought you had the stomach flu or virus but you actually had food poisoning.
How can you protect yourself and your family from food poisoning?
- Good hygiene is a start; make sure you wash your hands often, before and after cooking. Washing your hands properly means washing with warm soapy water and making sure you get in between your fingers which many people forget.
- Clean your dishes that have come in contact with raw meat, poultry, fish or eggs. When possible use a meat thermometer to ensure that meat is cooked to proper temperatures.
- Refrigerate any perishable food or leftovers within 2 hours. DO NOT eat meat, poultry or fish that have been refrigerated uncooked longer than 1 to 2 days.
- Don’t play expiration date roulette where you eat yogurt or other dairy after the expiration date.
- Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. The FDA has regulations in place for your safety. If food doesn’t taste quite right it could have gone bad and may cause some degree of discomfort.
Whether you go out to eat or prepare food at home pay attention to cooking food properly. Also take note when food is recalled as reported on the news. If you suspect food poisoning that is severe or if you have an underlying condition you should see your doctor. In the event that you have eaten spoiled food at a restaurant or not in your own kitchen you should notify that establishment so they can make appropriate changes.
Now that you have some tips on how to be safe – Let’s Eat!