Minimise Your Chances Of Getting Foodborne Illnesses

Food-related illnesses are a real thing that some people neglect. As a blog that has many articles on nutrition and eating, it would be great if we also discuss the risks that come with eating. As one of the lead writers on this blog, I also happen to have a Master of Infectious Disease. And so, armed with the sword of Public Health knowledge, here is a short article on minimising such illnesses.

Eating healthy foods will help you to boost your immune system, but there is always a chance that the very same foods can make you ill. When we mention foodborne illnesses, we often think of food poisoning specifically. The truth, however, is that, it also includes other diseases. Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to prevent foodborne illnesses. Following safety tips when handling, preparing, and storing food is very important.

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First and foremost, you should be concerned with the temperature of your food. When cooking meat, you can use a thermometer in order to make sure that you meat is reaching to proper temperatures inside. It does sound extreme and ridiculous, and in some cases it can be. But if you are making a steak and are not confident of its freshness, do it.

Even though some meats, such as beef, can be served rare safely, proper temperatures are still a factor to consider. Having high temperatures can kill any bacteria that may be growing on the meat. In the case of burger and other loaf meats that have been ground and formed into patties, you should not eat them rare under any circumstance.

You see, not everything is equal. In some meats, bacteria can be growing in the inner lining as on the outside, and you are at risk if you do not cook these meats for a long enough period of time to kill any bacteria. After your food is cooked, you should continue to monitor the temperature if you can. Of course this is not a blanket rule.

You should always keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. You see, the range between the recommended storage temperatures is where bacteria can grow. When letting food cool for refrigeration, place in the refrigerator no more than two hours after you have left it out. Conversely, when thawing meals, do so in a bowl or pan in the refrigerator rather than at room temperature.

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Cross-contamination is one of, if not the biggest culprit when it comes to preventing food-related illnesses. Cross contamination is basically the movement of bacteria from one dish to another. This happens when you use dirty cutting boards, don’t wish your dishes properly, and use the same utensil for all of your foods.

For example, if you are using knife to cut raw chicken and then you, in your infinite wisdom, use that same knife to cut your food after it has been cooked, some of the bacteria from the raw chicken has probably remained on the knife, and where do you think that gets transferred to? And think about it – the cooked chicken has probably cooled down a tad, so the campylobacter or whatever other bacteria can survive on it.

Apart from making sure that you are using a clean work space and clean tools whenever you cook, you should also make it a habit to regularly wash your hands. Every time you touch raw foods, you should use disinfecting hand soap and warm water to make sure that no bacteria remains on your hands. Making sure that your food is safe is one of the most important parts of healthy eating, so don’t overlook this step the next time you prepare a meal.

And yes, I can hear your excuses raining down from the sky. But trust me – you wouldn’t want to be on the wrong end of a foodborne illness. If you had suffered gastro or other infections before, you probably know exactly what I mean. Alright then, here endeth the pessimistic, almost nihilistic post. Time to focus on your healthy eating!

Speaking of food…..

 


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