How To Prevent Food Poisoning?

Food poisoning is one of the most common forms of illness, and anyone can fall sick from it. However, some people are simply more sensitive to germs than others, and it takes little to get through their immunity. 

That being said, it’s always better to exercise caution and take preventive measures to ensure we don’t fall sick when we can help it. We consulted the experts on this, and they shared with us some vital pieces of advice we can follow to keep ourselves safe from food poisoning.

Heating, Cooling, and Cross-Contamination

Food safety is an important element of health and nutrition that often gets overlooked. If a restaurant has a low score, we immediately decide to take our business elsewhere, but we may be making the same mistakes in our own homes. When it comes to food safety, there are five primary areas to consider; cook temperatures, refrigeration, cooling, thawing, and cross-contamination.

Foods must be cooked to specific temperatures according to the pathogen growth they are most susceptible to be contaminated with. For instance, poultry must be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent and reduce salmonella poisoning.

Food should be held cold at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or less to prevent bacterial growth. Cooling and thawing foods should be done at a specific rate for safety purposes. Cross-contamination can occur in many ways where pathogens are introduced to foods that do not have a risk for that pathogen. 

Lisa Richards is a nutritionist and author of The Candida Diet.  

Improper Food Storage

There are three primary areas to consider concerning food storage and safety; storing food uncovered, cross-contamination, and improper cooling. All of these areas can lead to foodborne illness if proper safety precautions are not followed. Cross-contamination can occur during food storage due to shelf and food placement. 

Shelves should be dedicated to specific food types to prevent cross-contamination. If raw animal products are placed over ready-to-eat food, there is a risk of liquid from these raw products dripping into the ready-to-eat food and being consumed prior to being cooked or denatured. Not properly covering food when it is stored can lead to physical, chemical, and biological contamination. This can increase the risk of raw and ready-to-eat cross-contamination, as mentioned before, as well as contamination from potential food allergens from other dishes.

Not allowing food to cool properly before covering it and placing it under refrigeration can create a perfect environment for pathogen growth. Once a lid is in place, the hot food will take longer to cool and move through the temperature danger zone (between 40 degrees and 140 degrees Fahrenheit).

Use a thermometer to ensure the food is at an adequate temperature before covering it. This process moves more quickly through frequent stirring, venting, and ice baths or wands. 

Trista Best is a Registered Dietitian at Balance One Supplements, Environmental Health Specialist, and Adjunct Nutrition Professor. 

Improper Washing of Produce

One of the most common yet incorrect ways to wash produce is to fill up a bowl with water, throw the produce in, and let them bathe/soak for a while. But when you do that, it only takes one leaf to have some harmful bacteria on it to contaminate everything. *Scrubbing your fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water is still one of your best bets to prevent food poisoning.

Matt Perry, Marketing Specialist of Buy Moldavite

Choose Reputable Restaurants

One of the best things you can do to avoid food poisoning is to choose reputable restaurants in your area if you’re going out to eat, for example. As consumers, there’s not much we can do really other than look at the food, paying attention to the color and the smell of the food being served. If you’re going to eat out at a good restaurant, these people have more training in regards to raw materials storage and manipulation. 

They do rigorous daily checks (multiple times per day) of the materials stored in the fridges and shift that material accordingly. So if you want to avoid food poisoning when eating out, make sure you choose the venue wisely. The more professional they look- the smaller the chances are of getting poisoned with bad food. 

Adrian Victor, a construction professional, and editor at BestForMyFeet.com

Ingredients Past Their Prime

When preparing any kind of dish, your first step will be to make sure that none of your ingredients are past their prime. You can check your ingredients two ways: by looking at the expiration date and by inspecting the ingredients. If anything smells foul or simply looks off, don’t test your luck by cooking with it. 

Second, you will want to clean as you go, especially if you are cooking with raw meat. If there are germs on your meat, they will likely cook-off, but you don’t want to prep on a dirty surface!

Sarah Mason, a food blogger at Fluentfoodie.com

Washing Your Hands

Washing your hands is one of my food poisoning prevention tips. Handwashing with soap and hot water before and during food preparation is critical for avoiding food poisoning caused by germs like salmonella and E. coli. 

You are washing your hands after using the restroom, changing a diaper, or tidying up after a pet is very important. Cutting boards and counters should be cleaned often, particularly after contact with raw meat, poultry, or fish.

Microwave sponges for at least two minutes to keep them clean and germ-free, and wash dishcloths often in extremely hot water in the washing machine or by hand.Brian Paonessa, Founder & CEO Fit Functional Nurses