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What You Don't Know About Food Poisoning

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 8 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Food Poisoning Health Cooking Utensils

Anyone who has suffered from food poisoning knows it is a painful experience. But many people feel unrealistically safe from food poisoning and fail to take the proper precautions to prevent it from striking.

With all of the myths about food poisoning, it's important to get the facts. If you think you know all there is to know about food poisoning, think again and learn what you can do to protect yourself and your family.

Hand Washing

We all know that washing hands is important to prevent food poisoning. But are you washing hands properly and as often as you should be? According to food safety experts, many people are not washing their hands before and after they handle foods.

You should be using warm water and soap as well as fresh paper towel rather than a cloth that you continue to reuse each time you wash your hands. Another mistake people make is simply to lather soap in the palms of their hands. You should also be cleaning under your fingernails as well as between your fingers.

Salad Cream and Sauces

When you mix salad cream and other sauces with foods such as pasta, potatoes or meats and then allow these foods to become warmer than forty degrees fahrenheit, you put yourself at risk for food poisoning. Most bacteria like temperatures above forty degrees and up to approximately one hundred and forty degrees. Once your food enters that danger zone, you and your family are at risk. It's more likely to happen on picnics or if you wait too long after serving a meal to put leftovers away.

Cutting Boards and Cooking Utensils

Another mistake people make when it comes to food poisoning prevention is to use one cutting board for all foods. Some people are under the mistaken notion that as long as the board is sufficiently washed, there is no risk.

Unfortunately, there is much variation in the materials used to make cutting boards. Bacteria can penetrate cutting boards and even washing does not always remove all bacteria. In the case of something like chicken, this can be especially disastrous. Always use a separate board for cutting vegetables and fruits and use one solely for your meats like poultry.

Checking Cooked Meats

You may think that food poisoning will not happen to you or your family if you simply check to see if the meat looks cooked. This is not the case though; a meat thermometer is the only way to ensure meat is fully cooked. For poultry, recommendations vary but the minimum is 70 degrees C and generally, it is best to aim for 82 degrees C for whole chicken.

Preventing Food Poisoning

Foodborne illness is a real threat to anyone and if you aren't clear on the facts, you or your family can suffer. Be sure to follow proper food preparation and storage guidelines described above and if ever in doubt, throw it out is a wise approach. With a bit of care, you can safely enjoy your foods and have a healthy tummy to show for it.

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