6 Essential Hacks to Avoid Food Poisoning

03 Jun 2018, by Susan Alexander Truffles in Food Musings

While summer is the best time to enjoy the sunny outdoors, it’s also the time when stomach bugs are more likely to be picked up. The warm temperature creates the perfect breeding ground for bacteria growth, causing food to go off a whole lot quicker and make you sick in just a few hours. Here are some hacks that will help prevent food poisoning, keeping you, your friends, and family safe this summer.

What is food poisoning?

Hot dimsum on the table

Eat hot food within two hours of serving to avoid food poisoning.

Food poisoning is commonly caused by toxins, bacteria or viruses found in food. Some examples include salmonella, listeria, norovirus, and E. coli. These might already be present in food or they may grow on the food due to the environment. Once affected food is ingested, food poisoning symptoms may occur such as abdominal cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, and sweating. If you think you have food poisoning, it’s important to see your doctor or emergency department immediately.

Wash your hands.

The first rule for avoiding food poisoning is to make sure your hands are clean before and after food preparation, especially if you are handling raw meat. Wash hands with soap and warm water thoroughly.

Avoid cross-contamination.

Raw meat is a potential carrier for bacteria, especially if left out of the fridge for too long. Wash utensils that have been in contact with raw meat, chicken, fish or eggs. It’s also important to never put cooked food into a container that has had raw meat in it without washing well in between. You should also use a different chopping board for meat-only.

hand washing fork

Immediately wash utensils that have contacted raw meat.

Stick to used-by dates.

Do not eat leftovers which have been in the fridge for longer than 48 hours. Never eat foods which have passed their used-by date or that appear to have torn or broken packaging. If you are unsure about the food, don’t serve or consume it, especially if it smells funny or looks off in color.

Thaw foods properly.

The safest way to thaw foods is in the fridge. However, if you are after a quicker thaw, you can do so by submerging your meat in a sealed bag in cold water. You can also thaw food in the microwave. In each case, you will need to cook the food immediately after thawing.

Take care of the hot food.

When serving hot food, ensure it’s eaten within two hours or if not, remove from the table and refrigerate. If the temperate is above 30 degrees, it shouldn’t be out for longer than an hour.

Keep cold food cold.

Cold foods such as cheese or dairy items should be kept at four degrees or cooler and served on an ice tray or in small portions and replaced often. You can use nets and covers for food to help deter insects such as flies.

Keeping hot food hot, cold food cold, keeping food out of the sun, eating food immediately after cooking, avoiding cross-contamination, and keeping a clean food preparation area will help you avoid nasty food poisoning this summer. Click through for more specific food handling advice from the US Department of Agriculture, or browse through our blog for more food tips and advice.

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