Many of us enjoy eating. Not only does it give us the necessary energy we need to perform our daily activities, but it is often a great social activity as well. I cannot begin to tell you how much I love to sit down to a good meal with friends and family. After all, good conversation just seems to flow when the food is yummy!
That being said, there are times when a good meal can lead to an upset stomach later on, or worse, a few days of diarrhea and vomiting. There are a few different ailments associated with poor eating habits that can lead to upset stomach, diarrhea, nausea, or indigestion. Food poisoning is never a memorable way to end a great evening. If you are preparing foods, there are ways to ensure that you keep yourself and your guests safe from any food-borne illnesses.
It all starts in the grocery store. Walk through the store with your cart and buy the non-perishable items first. Save picking up the refrigerator and freezer items until the very end. This way they are out of the cool for a shorter period of time, thereby reducing the risk of food-borne illnesses occurring. Go home and pack your fridge straight away.
If you buy eggs, ensure that none of them are broken in the package. Also, I know that dented cans are cheaper, but they also increase the risk of bringing on a bout of food poisoning later on. Avoid opened items at all costs.
And, of course, ensure that the items you purchase haven’t exceeded the “best before” date. While the date labeled on the food is not a 100% guarantee, it does provide some assurance. Keep in mind that the date does not mean that the product will last until that long. What it does mean is that unopened and untouched it should last until that day.
If you are suspicious of something, do not eat it. It is better to be safe than sorry. Would you rather waste a few dollars on an item or waste a few days in bed?
To help your foods, such as milk, keep their original flavor, keep a box of baking soda in your fridge. Many companies have now created boxes made especially for the fridge or freezer. These will help your foods retain much of their intended taste and smell, which might be able to help you smell — and perhaps taste — if they have gone bad.
Keep your kitchen clean and germ-free. Clean out your fridge often. If something spills, wipe it up immediately. Clean your countertops and sink frequently, especially after you have used them for cooking. Immediately disinfect the area if you are working with raw meats and fish.
When selecting a cutting board, choose one that is intended for raw meats only and that can go in the dishwasher. I find plastic is the best for this. This way, you can use it and place it directly in the dishwasher once you are finished cutting and you’ll no longer have to worry about bacteria.
Wash your hands frequently with lots of soap and warm water. While lathering (not rinsing), sing the “Happy Birthday” song. It might sound silly, but the length of the song is just right for washing your hands thoroughly. You can begin to rinse once you are done singing the song. Make sure you lather up under any rings and between your fingers.
If you are storing leftovers, package the food up and place it in the fridge within two hours of cooking. These items can be used for up to three or four days. The same goes for deli meats that you buy in the grocery store from the deli counter.
Keep items stored in sealed containers so as not to cause cross-contamination, even in the cupboards. Store meat on the lowest shelf of your fridge and in a dish in order to avoid contamination. Your refrigerator should be set below 40ºF and your freezer at 0ºF.
When cooking, use a thermometer to ensure that the food has reached the appropriate internal temperature. Never leave food on the counter to defrost or marinade; place it in the fridge instead.
Hot foods should stay above 140ºF and they should be reheated to a temperature of 165ºF. Food should originally be cooked at the following temperatures: