By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
Every year, as many as 1 in 6 Americans get a bad case of food poisoning by eating contaminated food. That is, the dirty food causes painful cramps, vomiting, and feelings of weakness. It’s a nasty type of sickness, but one that’s surprisingly avoidable, considering that 70% of food poisoning cases are just people mishandling food! Don’t be too paranoid, though, because food poisoning is very preventable.
This first one may seem obvious, but it’s important to shop in supermarkets with fresh produce. Don’t buy groceries with fast-approaching expiration dates, since they’ll spoil sooner. Instead, look towards the back row where the market often stocks the newest products. After all, they want to get rid of their old ones first, and so often place them out in front to tempt shoppers more easily. Don’t fall for it!
Another useful bit of wisdom, is checking to see whether or not the safety seals are fully intact. If a package is leaking, or has a broken seal, do not get it. These dribbling contents have often been exposed to potential contamination.
Okay, so you’ve piled some products in the grocery cart from the back row and they’re not leaking. What might not be super obvious, is that once you’re done purchasing everything the items should be separated from each other all the way until they reach the fridge. I know when my mom came home from the supermarket, she had me and my sister put the food away in the shelves and the fridge. We’d smile and nod, then just throw everything wherever it can fit! I didn’t know this at the time, but storing different types of food together like meat and fruit increases the chances of contamination! Don’t make the same mistake. Separate beef, chicken, pork, and fish from fresh produce like veggies and fruit. Store any meat that won’t be cooked immediately on the very bottom on the freezer, so nothing can drip down and contaminate other food.
When it does come time to cook the meat, it’s important to have clean hands, so wash them thoroughly to remove any germs. Feel like sneezing halfway through a culinary masterpiece? It’s fine, as long as your hands get soapy clean right away. Apparently, about 50% of people carry around a bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus inside their noses, throats, and eyes, which can cause annoying infections. That’s why it’s so crucial to keep bodily fluids away from the cooking pot, or it’ll end up on the dinner plate! Bacteria can also be found on skin and hair, so if you don’t mind looking a bit silly, wear a hairnet.
Lastly, a clean kitchen is essential to preventing any contamination, especially when dealing with raw meat, which soaks up the germs from just about any surface you put it on. To keep the place spotless, it’s important not to use the same sponge or rag to clean the dishes and the countertops. Use a separate one for each task! Then, when the dishes are washed, the countertop is gleaming, and the stove is squeaky clean, don’t just toss the rags and sponge aside. Run them through hot soapy water or toss them in the dishwasher instead, because bacteria love to grow on moist surfaces.
Follow these steps, and your chances of catching food poisoning will surely be reduced!
Featured image courtesy of Kevin O’Mara on Flickr. Clean kitchen image courtesy of Yvonne Eijkenduijn on Flickr.