Eat Smart: Protect Yourself from Food Poisoning

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August 1st, 2008

If you think you’re safe from food poisoning because you cook at home or only eat at certain restaurants, think again. Each year, over 75 million people fall ill due to ingesting foods tainted with bacteria and other substances. For most, this will be an extremely unpleasant experience. For others, especially young children, pregnant women and the elderly, it will be deadly. Because food poisoning can be so dangerous, it’s more important than ever to do what you can to protect yourself from getting sick from what you eat. With studies showing our foods containing more harmful bacteria today than ever before, you have to be careful of the things you ingest, no matter what or where you eat. Here are some tips that can help you stay safe.

When shopping: When you’re picking out your food at the supermarket, look for fruits and vegetables that are free from bruises or scratches. These blemishes can provide a place for bacteria to hide and multiply. If you’re pregnant, older or have an immune deficiency, avoid products that have not been pasteurized. While you may love fresh juices or cheeses, they may not always be safe for you.

When cooking: There are a number of things you can do when you’re cooking at home to help ensure that you and your family won’t get food poisoning. One of the most important things you can do is to wash your hands frequently, especially after you’ve touched raw foods. You’ll also want to wash any produce you bring into your kitchen before cooking and preparing it to remove both dirt and bacteria. Cut meat on a separate cutting board and make sure to cook all meats and eggs thoroughly before eating them.

When cleaning up: Clean up can be just as important as cooking when keeping you safe. Always make sure to refrigerate leftovers as soon as they begin cooling, especially with seafood. You’ll also want to make sure all utensils and dishes are washed with hot, soapy water to kill any potential bacteria. Clean up any crumbs or food particles that could attract pests. These animals can bring deadly diseases into your home and can taint your food.

When eating out: When you go out to eat, choose restaurants that appear clean and well-maintained. Always wash your hands before eating to keep any bacteria you might have picked up from winding up in your mouth. If you’re trying to be extra careful, order your foods cooked and well-done and avoid raw foods like sushi, raw fruit, raw shellfish and undercooked eggs.

Follow some of these simple rules and you can help keep yourself a little bit safer from food poisoning and perhaps a little healthier in general to boot.

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