Although a mild case of food poisoning may result in no more than a bit of diarrhea and nausea for adults, food poisoning can end up being much more severe and possibly even fatal for children and seniors. In most healthy adults, food poisoning will result in nothing more than a couple of hours of extreme discomfort due to an immune system that is running on all cylinders.
However, food poisoning occurring in young children or the elderly can have devastating consequences ultimately ending in death if medical treatment is not found immediately.
We may not tend to think of the possibility of contracting food poisoning until we are out at a restaurant. We may suddenly become concerned that the person preparing our food forgot to wash his hands. Or we may be concerned that our hamburger is not cooked all the way through or that our chicken looks a bit pink inside.
However, chances are that it will not be while we are eating out with our family that food poisoning will strike. If food poisoning does strike, chances are it will strike inside the “safe” confines of our own kitchen.
And it will more than likely be some of our food handling habits that left the door open.
We can significantly minimize the possibility of having food poisoning strike our family by taking a good look at the ways we handle our food in the kitchen.
For instance, you don’t store raw, thawed meats in your refrigerator next to other foods do you? For instance do you place butcher wrapped meats in the fridge to thaw? If so you run the risk of meat juices leaking out of the butcher warp and contaminating other foods such as produce as it thaws. You should place your meat in a glass container with a lid for this purpose. Or at the very least, inside of a zip-lock type storage bag so that the juices can’t leak out.
Speaking of your refrigerator, you do keep the temperature at a steady 40 degrees F and your freezer below 0 degrees F right? Good!
And we have already established that you thaw your meats in the refrigerator and not on the kitchen counter.
While preparing foods for the evening meal I certainly know that you don’t use the same cutting utensils to prepare your meats with as you do your vegetables, right? Good! It is best to use separate cutting utensils to prepare your meats with and then wash those utensils immediately after use before laying them down on the kitchen counter.
You want to thoroughly wash all of your produce thoroughly. It may seem like overkill but you also want to wash those fruits containing rind that you throw away anyway. Why? Well think about it. These fruits are lying in fields and chances are they risk the possibility of coming into contact with animal wastes and droppings. When you run a clean knife through the rind, your knife is introducing bacteria into the fruit that you will consume.
Always make sure that you cook all meats, poultry, and seafood thoroughly. Get yourself a meat thermometer and use it to determine the internal temperature of the meats you will be serving.
And always remember, disinfectant is your friend. Don’t be afraid of mixing a weak solution of household chlorine bleach and water in a spray bottle and using liberally on your kitchen counters and sinks.
Be aware that that Centers for Disease Control (CDC) specifies “household” chlorine bleach. For a strong solution, mix 1 tablespoon bleach to one quart of cool water (add the bleach to the water not the water to the bleach). For a weak solution, mix 1 tablespoon of bleach to 1 gallon of cool water.
As your mother once said (and perhaps still does), “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” So is a bit of common sense when it comes to food prep.