Tips For Avoiding Food Poisoning For the Home Cook

Many thousands of people get sick each year from poorly handled, poorly stored or poorly cooked foods. Here are some tips to help you avoid getting sick:

Use Your Senses

One of the most important tips for avoiding food poisoning is to use all of your senses. How does the food look? Does it look ok? Is there mold starting to grow? Does the milk have a sour smell to it? Does the texture look normal? Smell everything, if anything has a funny smell, throw it out. Do not take chances when it comes to food poisoning.

Cook It Properly

When cooking some meats and especially poultry, it's important to use a thermometer to make sure you bring the meat to the proper temperature of doneness for that particular meat. Raw chicken or seafoods are especially apt to make people sick. Also, make sure to cook shellfish properly.

Cross Contamination

Be careful of cross contamination, especially when preparing poultry and seafood. You should try to never let raw poultry touch other foods during preparation. Also, clean cutting boards or use a different cutting board for different types of food. For example, use one cutting board for chicken and another for the vegetables.

Canned Foods

When using canned goods, scrutinize the can for any leaks, holes, rust or other damage. If a can is leaking, is bubbling or has any damage, throw it out. Also, clean the top of the can before you open it, to keep any bacteria or dust out of your food when you use the opener.

Shelf Life

Always consider the shelf life when storing foods. Store them according to their expiration dates if you can, with the soonest expirations near the front and putting the newer items in the back.

Storage and Serving

Proper storage and serving of foods is very important for avoiding food poisoning, and also for keeping your food fresher for a longer period of time. Always store foods according to their needs. Potatoes for instance, need to be stored in a cool, dark place. Serving is also important as many people tend to get sick at weddings and other events where food is served and left out for a long period of time. Foods that contain mayonnaise, for example, should not be left out exposed to air or sun for very long. The same is true for egg dishes and foods containing raw eggs. Also, take extra care when serving in hot or warm weather, as increased air temperature will help bacteria to multiply and grow more quickly.

Wash Your Hands

Finally, one of the most important tips is to wash your hands often while you are preparing food. Between touching each dish and different foods, washing your hands can cut down on any bacteria being passed between the foods. Do not assume that a quick wash under running water will do the job though. Wash your hands with hot water and soap each time. Then dry your hands in a clean towel.