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How to Keep Your Family Safe from Foodborne Illness

by Asad Bondi
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Foodborne Illness

How much do you know about food safety? Chances are, if you’re like most people, not enough! When you cook your family meals every night or buy food from the grocery store, how often do you stop to think about how you can keep them safe from foodborne illness? Food safety isn’t just some dry topic that only applies to medical professionals; it should be something we all think about every day. Here are some common-sense tips on keeping your family safe from foodborne illness in your own home!

Use clean hands

Making sure you use clean, sanitized hands is a great first line of defense against foodborne illnesses. A University of Arizona study found that raw chicken can carry harmful bacteria that can contaminate other foods you touch, such as vegetables and bread Never leave food out in room temperature for more than two hours; if it needs longer than that, throw it out. And wash your hands frequently—not just before handling food but after as well. It’s an easy habit to get into, and you’ll be amazed at how much safer your family feels when everyone knows that they’ve washed their hands before dinner every night. The CDC recommends washing with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (after using soap and water) 20 seconds before preparing or eating food, immediately after preparing or eating food, and also right after changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has done so.

Refrigerate food properly

It may seem simple, but proper refrigerator storage of food is crucial for keeping your family safe. When properly stored, foods can last five times as long. Most foods are more susceptible to dangerous bacteria when they’re left at room temperature for too long. Make sure your refrigerator stays between 34 degrees and 40 degrees; anything warmer will speed up bacterial growth and anything below that won’t kill harmful bacteria lurking in raw meats and vegetables. To ensure safety, cook perishable food within two hours of taking it out of the fridge or freezer – ideally while it’s still cold. This will prevent any chance of bacterial growth. Also make sure you have a thermometer in your fridge so you can check temperatures regularly. You can also consider buying a second refrigerator for storing perishables like meat, poultry and fish. This way, you don’t have to open your main refrigerator every time you want something from inside it!

Clean surfaces before preparing foods

Keeping foods out of contact with surfaces that might be contaminated by food-related illnesses helps keep food safe. Be sure to wash cutting boards, countertops, dishes, and utensils after using them. If you’re not sure what a surface might have come in contact with before using it, scrub it down with hot soapy water or wipe it down with a bleach solution (1 part bleach and 10 parts water). When preparing poultry and meat that won’t be cooked before serving (like deli meats), make sure to keep it separate from vegetables or other foods that will be eaten raw or cooked. Wash your hands: Good hand hygiene is important for preventing foodborne illness. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling any type of food, especially when handling meat or eggs. You should also wash your hands if you sneeze or cough into them, use public restrooms, handle trash cans, pet animals (especially cats), change diapers, or handle anything that might contain germs. Store foods properly: Make sure to store all perishable foods at proper temperatures—below 40 degrees Fahrenheit for refrigerated items and above 140 degrees Fahrenheit for frozen items—to help prevent bacteria growth.

Don’t let raw meats touch cooked foods

This one might seem obvious, but it’s important. Raw meats (such as steaks, roasts, and chops) carry harmful bacteria that can contaminate other foods. When you defrost or cook these items in their original packaging, juices can drip onto food that’s nearby. To avoid cross-contamination between raw and cooked foods, never place raw meat on a plate that previously held cooked meat or poultry; use separate cutting boards for different types of food; and be sure to wash surfaces with soap after preparing raw meat. And if you have children at home who are learning how to use utensils and feed themselves? Make sure they don’t accidentally spear bites of carrots or broccoli with a fork tine that was used to cut chicken. It’s easy to get distracted when feeding kids—just like when driving—so keep your eyes on what’s going into mouths, not what’s going into pans.

Understand Use By dates

Understanding Use By, Sell By, and Best Before dates is important in avoiding food safety issues. In general, a Use by date is used when there could be potential health risk if you eat food past that date (i.e., it may have spoiled or could have bacteria growing on it). It’s also used for items that need to be cooked or eaten on a certain day. A Sell by date simply indicates when an item should no longer be sold for quality purposes. A Best before date is basically an estimation of when food will lose its flavor; it’s not really an indicator of safety and doesn’t mean that food has spoiled or isn’t safe to eat after that time period. To ensure your family stays safe from food borne illness, use your senses! If something smells off, looks strange or tastes funny – don’t take any chances – throw it out! And keep those foods away from high risk individuals like infants, elderly people or people with compromised immune systems. In addition to using your senses, here are some guidelines: The USDA says that most foods are still good beyond their sell-by date as long as they’re properly stored at 40 degrees F or below. That said, make sure you know how long each product can safely stay at room temperature (you can check expiration dates on packages), then follow these guidelines Qiuce me online: Canned Goods: Unopened canned goods are good indefinitely but once opened they must be consumed within one year because they cannot be recanned. Most cans contain acidic ingredients such as tomatoes which inhibit bacterial growth. As a result canned goods often last much longer than best-by dates stamped on them.

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