Preventing Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is a common, yet potentially serious environmental health issue. The occurrence of food poisoning can be reduced by following some simple rules while preparing, cooking, and serving food.

The most common causes of food poisoning are bacteria, viruses, or parasites that are present in foods that are contaminated with human or animal feces or their toxins. Most of the food poisoning cases are due to the consumption of foods that have not been thoroughly cooked or properly stored.

All these micro-organisms that cause food poisoning can be killed if they are exposed to adequate heat for a sufficient time, as in cooking or pasteurization.

Washing Your Hands

Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and running water before handling food, after using the toilet, or assisting in caring for someone who is sick. Use disposable paper towels to turn off the faucets and to open bathroom doors, since many infections are transmitted by hand contact.

Avoid touching your mouth, nose, or eyes while preparing and serving food. Wash your hands after touching any pets or animals, as they can carry animal blood and other contaminants on their coats.

When in doubt, wash your hands!

Cook food properly, using a thermometer to make sure it is fully cooked.

A thermometer is a safe and sure way to tell if food has been cooked enough.

Typically the only reliable way to know that bacteria have been killed is when the inside of the food reaches the recommended internal temperature.

Most bacteria commonly linked to food poisoning are killed by cooking at temperatures between 60 and 100°C (145 and 212°F).

When using a microwave oven, make sure the food is cooked thoroughly to kill germs. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cooking times as these may vary depending on the power of your oven.

Safe food handling includes not only cooking it but also keeping it at safe temperatures until you are ready to eat.

Keep hot foods hot (at least 140°F/60°C)

Keep cold foods cold (at or below 40°F/5°C).

Keep raw meat and poultry away from other foods

Cross-contamination occurs when germs from raw meat or poultry are allowed to come into contact with other foods that will be eaten raw, partly cooked or cooked.

This can happen in your home if you don’t properly follow the “cook it, clean it, separate it, & chill” rule.

Store food in the fridge or freezer at the correct temperature

Food poisoning bacteria grow faster at room temperature than at either higher or lower temperatures, so it’s best to store food in the fridge.

Many harmful bacteria can survive and grow on foods which are kept between 5°C (41°F) and 60°C (140°F).

To prevent this you should keep your fridge at 5°C (41°F) or lower, and at the correct temperature for each type of food.

Throw out any expired or contaminated food

Throw out food that is past its use-by date. Recalled products should be thrown out. Throw out any food that looks or smells strange, even if it hasn’t passed its use-by date. The best way to do this is to dump the food into a covered trash can to prevent animals from eating it.

Do not taste food that you suspect is contaminated. Remember, harmful bacteria can be present even if the food looks and smells okay. In addition to causing severe illness, eating contaminated food could ruin your vacation or make you very sick.

Seek medical attention

If you have a fever over 102 degrees, bloody stool, or other severe symptoms you should seek medical attention immediately.

Legal Assistance

If you are a victim of food poisoning caused by someone else’s negligence you may be entitled to financial compensation through a food poisoning lawsuit.