Food poisoning/food borne illness occurs when food contaminated by bacteria, parasite or virus is eaten. Symptoms include upset stomach, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and dehydration. Symptoms range from mild to serious.
Tips to Prevent Food Poisoning
- Check the expiration dates on all foods, especially meats, poultry and dairy products; do not buy or use foods beyond their expiration dates.
- Do not use canned goods with bulges, leaks, or dents; this may be a sign that the food is unsafe to eat.
- Wash hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water before and after handling food and especially after using the bathroom.
- Keep raw food separate from cooked food; this prevents cross contamination from one food to another.
- Wash utensils and cutting boards after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry and before they touch other food.
- Use one plate for raw meat and another plate after the meat is cooked.
- Refrigerate or freeze perishable food within two hours after buying or preparing. If room temperature is above 90°F, refrigerate perishable food within one hour.
- Cook meat, poultry and seafood thoroughly. Meats should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F.
- Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly to remove visible dirt and discard the outermost leaves of lettuce and cabbage.
- Defrost foods safely, using one of the following methods:
- In the refrigerator- wrap meat, poultry and fish so that the juices don’t drip on other foods. After defrosting, cook ground meat, poultry and fish within one or two days, other meat cook within three to five days.
- In the microwave- Use the “defrost” or “50 percent power” setting to avoid cooking the edges of the food. Cook food immediately after defrosting in a microwave.
- In cold water- Put food in a sealed package or plastic bag and immerse in cold water; change the water every 30 minutes. Or place the sealed package under cold, running water. Cook food immediately after defrosting.
- Throw out any leftovers that have been at room temperature for more than two hours or in hot weather for more than one hour.
- If hot food must be out for longer than two hours, use warming trays, slow cookers or chafing dishes to keep the food hot.
- If cold food must be out for longer than two hours, use a cooler or ice bucket.
- Do not eat any food you are unsure about, when in doubt, throw it out.
- Pregnant women, young children, older adults and people with weakened immune system should take extra precautions to avoid raw or rare meat and poultry; raw or undercooked fish or shellfish; raw or undercooked eggs or foods containing them such as cookie dough and homemade ice cream; raw sprouts (alfalfa, bean, clover, radish); un-pasteurized juices, ciders, milk and milk products; soft cheeses, blue-veined cheese and un-pasteurized cheese; refrigerated pates and meat spreads; uncooked hotdogs, luncheon meats and deli meats.