What You Should Know About Avoiding Food Poisoning
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What You Should Know About Avoiding Food Poisoning

According to statistics of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) there are annually about 76 million cases of reported food poisoning in the USA of which 5 million cases are fatal.

No one is excluded from food poisoning. Therefore, prevention is better than cure. The keys are good hygiene, proper cooking temperatures for animal protein and the basic rule “keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold”:

1. Keep your kitchen or food preparation area, utensils, surfaces and your hands clean. Hands should be washed in warm soapy water for about 20 seconds before preparing food. Then, after handling food, especially raw meat, hands should be thoroughly washed again.

2. Be especially careful when canning food. Follow the instructions carefully to avoid botulism, a potentially fatal form of food poisoning. (Botulism is a rare but serious illness caused by a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum, which occurs in soil – National Institute of Health)

3. Thaw frozen meats – especially minced meat – in the refrigerator and cook it as soon as it have defrosted.

4. Although many people like to eat rare meat, be careful. Cooking meat only to rare may not kill the bacteria that can cause illness.

5. Poultry must be cooked until there is no red in the joints and juices run clear when it is pricked.

6. Cook fish so that it flakes with a fork, and it looks firm and opaque, not shiny.

7. It is advisable not to prepare or serve steak tartare or other raw meat dishes. (Steak tartare is a meat dish made from finely chopped or minced raw beef. Tartare can also be made by thinly slicing a high grade of meat such as strip steak, marinating it in wine or other spirits, spicing it to taste, and then chilling it – Wikipedia.) These are among the type of foods most likely to cause food poisoning. Mincing equipment may harbor contaminants, and minced meat offers micro-organisms on which to multiply.

8. When dining out especially be careful of rare or undercooked hamburgers.

9. Never depend on the sniff test to determine whether food is off. Meat that has been contaminated with E.coli bacteria, a major cause of food poisoning, does not necessarily smell bad. (E. coli is short for Escherichia coli -- a bacterium (germ) that causes severe cramps and diarrhea. E. coli is a leading cause of bloody diarrhea. The symptoms are worse in children and older people, and especially in people who have another illness. E. coli infection is more common during the summer months and in northern states – Family Doctor.Org).

10. Do not eat raw fin fish or shell fish if you have an immune disorder or are on chemotherapy. Although most fish you buy has been commercially frozen and thawed, freezing does not kill bacteria. It only kills most parasites.

Image Resource: iStockphoto

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