10 Tips to Prevent Food Poisoning
Washing raw chicken can lead to food poisoning by Campylobacter bacteria, which can be spread to hands, clothing, kitchen utensils and work surfaces from water droplets splashing off the raw meat. This type of bacteria can lead to serious infection and other conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, reactive arthritis and Guillain-Barré syndrome.
Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and running water. Scrub on the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails. Don’t be afraid to wash your hands often, as illness-causing bacteria can survive in many places in your kitchen.
Wash your fruits and vegetables, even if you plan to peel them, as bacteria can still spread from outside to inside as you cut and peel.
Wash utensils and small cutting boards with hot, soapy water after each use, and clean surfaces and larger cutting boards with a bleach solution. Simply rinsing utensils, countertops and cutting boards with water is not enough to stop bacteria from spreading.
Make sure to keep raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs separate from other food, as they can still spread bacteria to ready-to-eat foods. You can do this by using separate cutting boards, plates and utensils for raw veggies and raw meat. Also, keep things separated in your grocery cart and refrigerator.
When cooking food, make sure it reaches its safe minimum cooking temperature. You can do this by using a food thermometer. For whole meats, that means internal temperature should be 145°F, ground meat should be 160°F, and poultry should be 165°F. Eggs should be cooked until the yolk is firm.
During a meal, make sure the food is kept hot when being served and eaten. The food temperature should stay at or above 140°F. If you are microwaving, make sure the temperature gets to 165°F.
Bacteria can start growing in many foods within two hours unless you refrigerate them. In the summer heat, it’s more like one hour. Refrigerate food that tends to spoil more quickly, such as fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs and meat within two hours.
Never thaw or marinate foods on the counter or in the kitchen sink. You should always do that in the refrigerator.
There is a time limit for how long food stays good in the refrigerator before it becomes dangerous to eat. Frozen food remains safe indefinitely, but the quality may deteriorate after a certain point. For instance, an opened package of lunch meat stays good for about one week, while an unopened package is good for about two weeks.