When you are preparing to enjoy a meal with your family or friends, getting sick is probably one of the last things on your mind. However, if you have ever had a foodborne illness, referred to as gastroenteritis, you know you would do anything to prevent it.
Unfortunately, symptoms can range from inconvenient nausea to serious organ failure or even death. In fact, the CDC reports that foodborne illness cause 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3000 deaths in the U.S. each year.
In the video below, Amanda Haney talks about foodborne illnesses and highlights exactly how to prevent them.
If you don’t like the video or want more information, continue reading.
What are foodborne illnesses?
First off, the two most common foodborne illnesses are from bacteria and viruses. “Food poisoning” is a term commonly used to describe illness from overgrowth of bacteria on foods. Eating these foods can cause an infection, like from salmonella or e. coli, or an intoxication, like the bacteria that causes botulism.
The “stomach flu” is a popular term used to describe a stomach virus transmitted from person to person through cooking, preparing, or eating foods. The stomach flu is not really the flu at all because it is not caused by the influenza virus. In fact, the norovirus is the most common virus that causes gastroenteritis.
The good news is, foodborne illnesses are entirely preventable with proper hygiene and safe food handling practices.
Here are 4 steps to keep you and your family protected from foodborne illnesses
Wash hands in warm, soapy water at least 20 seconds before food prep. Also, wash hands after handling meat, poultry, or fish. Keep countertops, and kitchen equipment clean with hot, soapy water.
Separate raw and cooked foods to prevent cross-contamination. This includes in your shopping cart, grocery bags, and in the refrigerator. When grilling, never place the cooked foods on a plate that held raw meat. Use separate cutting boards for raw meat and produce. Try assigning a specific color cutting board to meat so they never mix!
Cook foods thoroughly to destroy bacteria. You can’t see if meat is finished from appearance, so always use a meat thermometer!
Correct temperatures are 145 °F for fish, 145 °F for pork, beef, or lamb, and 165 °F for chicken or turkey. Keep foods hot until serving and do not leave at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.
Refrigerate using shallow containers to reduce temperature quickly. Use a thermometer to ensure your refrigerator is always set at 40 and your freezer is set at 0. Always marinate food in the refrigerator.
Also, never defrost food at room temperature. 3 safe ways to defrost food are in the refrigerator, in the microwave, or in cold water.
Next time you are preparing a meal, remember clean, separate, cook, and chill. These 4 simple steps will help keep you and your family healthy and safe!