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Food safety measures can prevent illness



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Just because certain foods may be healthy, doesn’t mean they’re always safe. Contaminated foods can cause illness, or worse. For instance, even a small amount of food contaminated with the botulism toxin can lead to paralysis or death.

While food safety mistakes can prove costly, there are ways to prevent them. The following are some measures to help ensure safe food consumption, courtesy of the United States Department of Health & Human Services.

Always wash hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds before preparing or eating food, as well as between handling multiple foods like meat and veggies.

Do not thaw food on the counter, as germs multiply rapidly at room temperature. Instead, place food in the refrigerator, defrost in the microwave or submerge in a pot of cold water.

Do not cool food on the counter before refrigeration. Illness-causing bacteria can grow in as little as two hours at room temperature (one hour if room is above 90 F). Instead, refrigerate food within two hours, if not immediately.

Do not taste food to check if it is spoiled. Bacteria that causes food poisoning has no taste, and can cause serious illness. If you aren’t sure about a certain food, throw it away. To learn about safe storage times for the refrigerator and freezer, visit www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/storagetimes.html.

Wash plates and cutting boards that held raw meat before putting other foods on them to prevent spreading germs.

Do not eat foods containing uncooked eggs, as the eggs may contain harmful bacteria, including salmonella. This includes foods such as raw cookie dough or unpasteurized eggnog. Always cook eggs thoroughly. 

Marinate meat, poultry or seafood in the refrigerator. Marinating at room temperature allows harmful germs and bacteria in the meat to rapidly multiply.

Do not use leftover marinade on cooked foods. There may be germs from the raw meat, poultry or seafood left behind in the marinade that can spread to the cooked food. If you must use leftover marinade, boil it before adding to cooked food.

More information about food safety is available at www.foodsafety.gov.

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Tags: Featured Story, Food & Home, Health


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