How to Prevent Food Poisoning

Foodborne illnesses, also known as food poisoning, is a common problem that can be life-threatening. The hard part about it is that in some cases, people infected with food poisoning may be symptom-free. Meanwhile, those who do have symptoms would exhibit signs such as mild intestinal discomfort, severe dehydration, and even bloody diarrhea.

It is very important to take steps to prevent food poisoning. Because of this, you need to follow these rules especially at home.

Wash your hands – This is the most important tip to prevent food poisoning. Make sure to clean your hands with soap and water before getting in contact with raw food, after handling animals and pet feces, after preparing food, before eating, and after eating. Remember that the hands can carry millions of harmful microbes.

Food must be prepared well – Make sure that food from animal sources like meat, dairy, milk, and eggs, is cooked thoroughly or pasteurized. Wash raw fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating, especially those that will not be cooked. Also, be careful about the juices or dripping from raw meats and eggs getting in contact with other food products like fruits and vegetables. Avoid unpasteurized milk as well.

Keep hot food hot, and cold food cold – Foods that are cooked should be piping hot when served. In contrast, certain prepared foods such as cakes and salads should be served cold to avoid unnecessary bacteria spread.

Avoid eating raw or undercooked meats and eggs – Although there are some raw food that can be eaten (like sashimi), uncooked or undercooked meats-even rarely-done beef-carry harmful microorganisms if not handled properly. Check expiration dates on meats and eggs before purchasing and preparing. If you get served with an undercooked meat or egg in a restaurant, send it back for further cooking.

Check your fish – Carefully select and prepare fish and shellfish to make sure of its quality and freshness. Remember that shellfish are supposed to be cooked alive, and its shell would open when cooked.

Do not store perishable foods at room temperatures – Such foods such be kept in the refrigerator. Leaving them at room temperature encourages bacterial growth. Also, refrigerate leftovers as well as prepared-in-advance foods.

Do not thaw frozen foods at room temperature – You can either thaw foods in the microwave, in the refrigerator, or by dipping it in cold water. Avoid refreezing thawed food as well, as you are merely freezing bacteria that have accumulated.

Do not prepare food if you have food poisoning – Avoid spreading harmful bacteria to your family members, especially if you carry that disease and if they have a weak immune system. Take some rest and follow what you physician has prescribed you to do to get well.

Breastfeed your children – Not only is mother’s milk the safest drink for young infants, it may also help prevent foodborne illnesses and other health problems to your children.

High-risk people should avoid certain foods – People who are prone to food poisoning such as pregnant women, people with weak immune systems, infants, and the elderly, should avoid foods that are prone to excessive bacteria such as soft cheeses, leftovers, and processed foods.