Tips And Tricks To Avoid Food Bacteria Illnesses

Tips and tricks to keep your family safe from food bacteria illnesses.

Though food borne illnesses are generally discussed in the news when a fast food chain has a string of problems, or when a youngster ends up in the hospital, most cases actually begin at home. Symptoms of food borne illnesses are similar to those caused by the flu; nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and even fever, so many people may disregard a large and frequently occurring problem. But the discomfort, and threat to the very young, old or immune deficient, can be lessened with some simply safety steps and precautions.

There are thousands of types of bacteria, most of which our bodies can handle, use or disregard. E-coli, Salmonella, Clostridium, Streptococcus and Shigella are the most popular and dangerous bacteria. When these bacteria invade our food that is then passed on to us, our system needs to fight to rid itself of it, raging a usually short but exhausting battle.

The common foods that contain dangerous bacteria are meat, poultry, seafood, eggs and dairy products, as well as vegetables such as grains and beans. Most of these bacteria will not create an odd smell or taste, so identification can be difficult. Use these tips to avoid food borne illnesses and keep your family safe.

When purchasing perishable food items, look closely at the expiration date printed on the packaging. Try to purchase the freshest foods and those with the latest expiration dates. Notify grocery store personnel should you find products on display with expiration dates that have passed.

Do not purchase foods that are discolored or have an odd odor.

Refrigerate perishable food items immediately or freeze those that won't be used within two days.

Defrost products in the refrigerator to keep any bacteria within the food from growing. Defrosting at room temperature promotes an atmosphere ideal for bacteria growth.

Wash with hot water and a sanitizing soap, all cutting boards, of any material, after each use. Don't cut meat, then vegetables, then bread; wash after each type of food is cut. Don't be afraid to use bleach as a disinfectant, just be certain to rinse thoroughly so the scent and taste isn't passed onto your food.

Cook all foods to a medium doneness; no pink meat or flowing juices.

Refrigerate leftovers immediately. Cooling leftovers quickly prevents bacteria growth. Placing very hot leftovers in a shallow pan instead of a deep bowl, will offer a better cooling process.

Eggs, a very common base for bacteria, need to be kept refrigerated even after cooking. Hard-boiled eggs are included so consider plastic eggs for an Easter Basket display or egg hunt. Sauces or dishes that contain raw eggs should not be reused, throw away any unused portion. Scrap and/or rinse off raw egg sauces that were placed over a meat or poultry dish before saving.

A common but false myth to curing food borne illnesses is to take antacids before eating. While this may help heartburn, antacids actually reduce the acid in the stomach - the first defense to fighting the bacteria.

Keep in mind that symptoms can take as much as 48 hours to develop. If one person the household is ill, keep a watchful eye on the others for a few days to avoid complications and administer treatment as soon as possible.

Most people will benefit from simple rest, aspirin for pain and plenty of fluids. However, infants, the elderly or those with deficient immune systems, should seek professional attention if food borne illnesses are suspected.

Stay healthy!

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