Types Of Food Poisoning

Learn to prevent food poisoning by following some cooking guidelines. Find out how to clean and store raw meats, how to store leftovers, and how to recognize the signs of contaminated food.

Keeping yourself, your family and your guests healthy and safe is always a priority. And when preparing food, you want nothing more than to ensure that the food is handled, cooked, and stored properly. Food preparation involves more than marinating a piece of meat it requires meticulous detail and protection against bacteria. A few steps will help guide your way when cooking for friends or for yourself.

The priority in food safety is washing frequently and with the right soap. Germs can be spread easily through contact with the hands, which is done at times other than cooking. If you wipe a spot on the counter with a cloth, wisk away a piece of hair from your forehead or cover your mouth when you sneeze, your hands can be full of germs that can potentially spoil more than your appetite.

Food safety relies on clean hands, clean cooking surfaces and a clean cooking utensils. When washing your hands, use an anti-bacterial soap that kills germs. Wash your hands well for at least 20 seconds and don't overlook your nails and the tops of your hands, which are often quite

contaminated with bacteria. Also keep your utensils tidy. Make sure that all of your kitchen tools, from knives to forks to ladles, are washed thoroughly with hot water and soap. A dishwasher is the suggested method for cleaning these tools. Also keep in mind that a knife which cuts into raw chicken needs to be cleaned again before it touches cooked other cooked or uncooked food. Knifes and other utensils are carriers of germs that often linger around to contaminate other foods.

Another food safety tip is separating raw food items, such as thawed chicken from other food items, like salad, potatoes and other prepared foods. Always keep raw meats, fish and poultry separate from fruits and vegetables since the two can contaminate each other and pose health risks to your cooking and your dinner guests. When possible, prepare the meats first and the fruits and vegetables second. When raw meats come into contact with other foods, bacteria can be easily transmitted contaminating the non-raw food items.

Clean cooking surfaces will also ensure food safety. Make sure that all countertops are cleaned thoroughly with hot water and an anti-bacterial soap, or if possible, bleach. If you're using a cutting board to trim meat or cut fruits and vegetables, it is best to use a plastic cutting board which can be washed thoroughly. A wooden cutting board retains germs and traps hidden bacteria. It is very difficult to properly clean a wooden cutting



board for the above reasons and it is a smart idea to avoid them altogether.

An essential to food safety is ensuring that the food is cooked thoroughly, so that any germs or bacteria will be killed in the cooking process. E-coli, salmonella poisoning and other germs can plague food that is improperly and insufficiently prepared.

Here are some tips to help a cook gauge when food is cooked safely and thoroughly.

--Make sure you use a meat thermometer, which can tell you the internal temperature of the food you're cooking. The thermometer is a more accurate measure of a meat's readiness. Just because the exterior of the meat is hot does not mean that the inside is properly cooked.

--Be sure to cook the meat at the proper temperature and for the correct amount of time. Speeding up the cooking process by turning up the temperature only cooks the outside of the meat, leaving the inside flesh susceptible to bacteria. Further, the flavor is lost when foods are rush-cooked.

--Always insert the thermometer in the thickest part of the meat. In the case of casseroles, quiche and other dishes, insert the thermometer in the middle of the dish. The center is usually the thickest part and therefore takes longer to fully cook---once the center is hot enough, the rest of the dish is surely done.

Once you've enjoyed the food you've prepared, you still have to protect against illness and germs. If you plan on storing the extra portions of food that are left over, you must wrap the food tightly in plastic wrap, aluminum foil, plastic or glass containers that have been cleaned.

Refrigerate the items as soon as possible, but never save food items that are susceptible to bacteria.

The sooner you chill the foods the better. By wrapping and storing these items quickly, you'll help ensure the safety of the foods you eat. Also, check your refrigerator's temperature. If it's not set below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, then it's not cold enough to keep food cool and prevent bacteria. When you decide to eat the stored foods, be sure to heat them thoroughly and for an adequate amount of time. Remember that most meats spoil if not used within a few days and most sauces and gravies don't last longer than a day or two. If you're suspicious about the quality of any food, discard it and don't take the health risk.

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