10 simple rules to prevent food poisoning: Hand hygiene to food storage

  • AFP
  • Updated: Apr 16, 2016 09:45 IST
Depending on the type of infection, people can even die as a result of food poisoning. That is why it is very important to take steps to prevent food poisoning. (Shutterstock)

Food poisoning, also called food-borne illness, is a common, distressing, and sometimes life-threatening problem. People infected with food-borne organisms may have no symptoms or may have symptoms ranging from mild intestinal discomfort to severe dehydration and bloody diarrhea.

Common sources of infection are foods that have been incorrectly stored or not cooked properly, or which have been cross-contaminated by other foods.

Read: Avoid food poisoning with these 5 WHO-approved tips

Depending on the type of infection, people can even die as a result of food poisoning. That is why it is very important to take steps to prevent food poisoning.

The risk of picking up food-borne bugs at home can be reduced by following these ten food safety recommendations.

1 Keep hands clean

Hands should be washed with soap and water before and during food preparation. If that’s not possible, use an antibacterial wipe, gel or solution. This should be repeated after touching raw foods (meat and vegetables) and after contact with any other possible source of contamination (going to the bathroom, changing baby, petting an animal, changing kitty litter, handling soil or objects dirtied with soil, etc.).

Keep clean: Wash hands before handling food and often during food preparation. Wash hands after going to the toilet. Wash and sanitize surfaces and equipment used for food preparation. Protect kitchen areas and food from animals and insects. (Shutterstock)

2 Stay out of the kitchen when sick

When gastroenteritis strikes, avoid preparing meals for yourself or for friends and family. Find someone to take over if possible, or be very vigilant about hand washing. Opt for foods that don’t require much preparation.

3 Get leftovers straight in the fridge

Don’t keep any cooked foods or dishes at room temperature for more than two hours before putting them in the fridge.

Keep food at safe temperatures: Do not leave cooked food at room temperature for more than two hours. Refrigerate promptly all cooked and perishable food (preferably below 5C). Keep cooked food piping hot (more than 60C) prior to serving. Do not store food too long even in the refrigerator. Do not thaw frozen food at room temperature. (Shutterstock)

4 Keep fridges clean

If foods spill inside the fridge, clean them up immediately with a suitable detergent. Fridges should be cleaned fully as often as necessary and at least once a year.

Read: How to keep food safe in summer

5 Use separate chopping boards

Keep one chopping board for raw meat and fish, and another for cooked foods and clean vegetables. Once foods are cooked, don’t reuse the same dishes or utensils to carry or handle raw ingredients.

Separate raw and cooked: Separate raw meat, poultry and seafood from other foods. Use separate equipment and utensils such as knives, cutting boards for handling raw foods. Store food in containers to avoid contact between raw and prepared foods.

6 Check fridge temperatures

The coldest part of a fridge should be kept at a temperature between 0 and 4°C. Check the door seals to ensure they’re still airtight.

7 Cook ground meat thoroughly

Protect young children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems from harmful bugs and bacteria by cooking ground meat products thoroughly. A ground meat patty served rare could still harbor harmful bacteria.

Cook it thoroughly: Cook food thoroughly, especially meat, poultry, eggs, and seafood (pictured above, pork on the grill). Bring foods like soups and stews to boiling to make sure they have reached 70C. For meat and poultry make sure juices run clear, not pink. Ideally, use a thermometer. Reheat cooked food thoroughly.

8 Don’t keep ready-to-eat dishes too long

Recommendations suggest that pre-prepared deli products, ready-to-eat dishes, cream-based cakes or highly perishable foods that aren’t pre-wrapped and which don’t have a use-by date should be kept for no more than three days. Retailers should be able to provide more specific guidelines.

9 Avoid raw foods

Children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems are strongly advised to avoid raw meat and fish (carpaccio, ceviche, sushi, etc.) and unpasteurized dairy products. Freezing fish for seven days is an effective way of killing parasites (such as Anisakis). With fresh produce, check the label before freezing to avoid refreezing products that have already thawed.

Use safe water and raw materials: Use safe water or treat it to make it safe. Select fresh and wholesome foods. Choose foods processed for safety, such as pasteurized milk. Wash fruits and vegetables, especially if eaten raw. Do not use food beyond its expiry date. (Shutterstock)

10 Keep baby’s bottles in the fridge

Special care should be taken with baby meals and bottles of infant formula: keep them for no more than 48 hours at 4°C.

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