What Is A Food Borne Illness?

Expectant mothers need to be especially concerned about food born illness while cooking meat and poultry.

You have just found out you are pregnant, so now it is time to take a hard look at your lifestyle. Along with all the other worries, preparations and planning that comes to light with pregnancy, your health should be ranked number one. Not only do you have to worry about your developing baby's health, but your health is vital as well. You want to make sure miscarriage is prevented and you stay strong right up through the delivery of the baby.

A growing problem and concern in the health care community is women unknowingly contracting a food borne illness during their pregnancy. It has been determined that any illness a pregnant woman contracts can affect her unborn child. Their immune systems are too weak to fight back against the illness. Also, in many cases during the early months of pregnancy there have been reports of miscarriages occurring as a result of a food borne illness.

What should expectant mothers do? Staying educated about the different food borne illnesses out there will be extremely helpful in this venture and relieve a lot of the stress and worry. The last thing any pregnant woman is a lot of unwanted stress on her shoulders, especially about something she has control over.

First, you need to know what foods to avoid. Below are several examples of foods to stay away from while you are expecting (this list was obtained from the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline):

- raw or undercooked eggs

- Caesar salad

- Mousse

- Some custards

- Homemade ice cream

- Homemade mayonnaise

- Soft cheese (feta, blue cheese, Brie, Camembert are a few examples)

- Deli counter foods unless they are thoroughly reheated

- Raw or undercooked, unpasteurized milk

- Raw meat (like steak tartare, for example) or poultry

- Raw seafood (like raw oysters and clams, for example)

When preparing food, the Board of Health recommends that you:

- do not leave food at room temperature for more than two hours

- do not thaw food on the counter - defrost in you refrigerator, in cold water or in your microwave

- cook food at or above 160 degrees in order to destroy bacteria (180 degrees for poultry)

- eggs should be cooked solid

- wash cutting boards before and after use (sanitize both plastic and wooden cutting boards using a mixture of one teaspoon of bleach and one quart of water)

- keep your refrigerator setting at 40 degrees (recommended safe temperature)

- keep your freezer setting at zero degrees (recommended safe temperature)

More growing concerns are the fast food restaurants and salad bars. While it is relatively easy to control the safe handling of your meat and produce and keep your work areas clean, it is increasingly difficult to do so elsewhere. Many recommend avoiding these things all together, but reality wins this hand. If you feel you must eat out, be choosy about where you go and be particular about the way your food is cooked and handled. Do not be obnoxious about it, be wise and you will receive a far more positive response.

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