15 Ways to Protect Yourself from Foodborne Illness

March 12th, 2011

This alert from Johns Hopkins is worth copying and keeping handy in your kitchen.  It will help you and your family to avoid food contamination and the illness and discomfort it causes. I hope you find it informative and useful.    ~ Curt Hendrix M.S. C.C.N. C.N.S.

15  WAYS TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM FOODBORNE ILLNESS

Hardly a month goes by without a news report of people getting sick from bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens in food. While there’s nothing you can do about food contamination that occurs at the level of the farm or processing plant, you can take steps to protect yourself once the food is in your hands. Here are some food safety tips to help keep foodborne illnesses at bay: 

Food Safety Tip 1.  Pay attention to news reports about contaminated foods and do not eat anything under suspicion. 

Food Safety Tip 2.  Wash produce well, especially if it will be eaten raw. Produce with inedible peels like melons should be washed, too, to prevent pathogens on the peel from contaminating the flesh inside. 

Food Safety Tip 3.  Before and after handling food, wash your hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds — about as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. 

Food Safety Tip 4.  Use one cutting board and set of utensils for raw meat, fish, and poultry and another for produce. 

Food Safety Tip 5.  Use hot, soapy water to wash cutting boards, dishes, and utensils that have come in contact with raw meat, fish, eggs, and poultry.   

Food Safety Tip 6.  Separate raw meat, seafood, eggs, and poultry from other foods in your shopping cart, grocery bags, and refrigerator. 

Food Safety Tip 7.  Cook meat, seafood, and poultry adequately.  Take special care with ground meat, which is especially likely to harbor pathogens. Eggs should be cooked until the yolk is firm. 

Food Safety Tip 8.  Don’t place cooked meat, seafood, eggs, or poultry on the same plate that held the raw version. 

Food Safety Tip 9.  Store food properly. When you buy raw meat, seafood, eggs, and poultry, refrigerate them as soon as you get home from the store.   

Food Safety Tip 10.  Refrigerate foods within two hours of cooking. Never allow meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, or other foods that require refrigeration to sit out for more than two hours.   

Food Safety Tip 11.  Keep your refrigerator temperature at or below 40 degrees F and your freezer below 0 degrees F, because cold temperatures help stop organisms from multiplying.   

Food Safety Tip 12.  If a restaurant serves you undercooked meat (especially hamburger or chicken), send it back for more cooking. Ask that all other food on the plate be replaced, too. 

Food Safety Tip 13.  Avoid unpasteurized milk and other dairy products as well as unpasteurized juices.  

Food Safety Tip 14.  Don’t eat food that is spoiled, moldy, or smelly. If in doubt, throw it out. 

Food Safety Tip 15.  Discard old food. Check package labels for recommended storage time limits.