Tips to Prevent Food Poisoning
Food poisoning is a common condition for which people visit their doctor. According to experts, a good way of preventing food poisoning is to remember the four Cs:
- avoiding cross-contamination.
This is an easy and effective way to prevent spread of harmful bacteria and viruses. Maintain good personal hygiene and keep all your work surfaces (such as cooking counter, chopping board) and utensils clean. Washing hands thoroughly with soap and water is an effective way to prevent many illnesses including food poisoning. Wash your hands particularly:
- after going to the toilet
- after handling raw food (especially meat, chicken, fish)
- before eating or preparing food
- after touching bins or handling pets.
Food poisoning is common in children. They should be taught to wash hands frequently especially after going to the toilet, before eating, after handling pets and other animals. If soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based hand gel to clean hands.
It is important:
- not to handle food if you have stomach problems, such as diarrhoea or vomiting
- not to touch food if you have sores and cuts (unless they are covered with a waterproof dressing).
Cooking food thoroughly, particularly poultry, pork, burgers, sausages and kebabs, is recommended. This can kill any harmful bacteria such as listeria and salmonella. Cook thoroughly – it should be steaming hot in the middle. Check the meat after cooking by inserting a knife into the thickest or deepest part of the meat (if the juices which comes out are clear and it does not have any trace of pink/red meat left, it is fully cooked).
Storing foods at the correct temperature is essential to prevent harmful bacteria from growing and multiplying. The package can guide you regarding the temperatures at which food needs to be stored. Following handling recommendations on food product such as storing in a cool, clean, dry place or storing below 40C can help to maintain quality and prevent food borne illness. Ensure that you refrigerate all perishable food items promptly after you bring them home. While shopping, buy cold and perishable foods last when shopping and get them home fast. Keep cooked leftovers in the refrigerator ideally within 1-2 hours (fridge or freezer).
Cross-contamination can occur at home. In this bacteria are transferred from one food (usually raw foods) to other foods. It can occur if one food touches or drips onto another food or from bacteria on your hands, work surfaces or utensils are spread to food.
Cross-contamination can be prevented by:
- washing hands thoroughly after handling raw food (especially meat and fish)
- keeping raw and cooked foods separate
- cleaning chopping board, knives and utensils after using it for raw food (especially meat and fish).
Source: Expert Content Aug 27, 2012
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