Eat at Your Own Risk: Food Safety Facts
By Elizabeth Carruthers, RN MSN CNOR CBN CHHC
Eating healthy doesn’t just mean eating foods that might help you lose weight—it also means making sure what you consume doesn’t make you sick. Making conscious decisions about what types of foods you ingest is very important.
What Causes Food Poisoning?
Food poisoning occurs when you ingest foods contaminated with bacteria, viruses, molds, toxins, parasites, or other impurities. While most cases result in short-term discomfort, there is the possibility of some very long-term consequences such as brain damage, chronic arthritis, kidney failure, and death. But consistent use of good food safety practices can help minimize your risks.
According to Foodsafety.gov, when preparing foods for cooking, here are some practices to incorporate into your routine…
1. Always wash your hands before, during, and after food preparation with soap and warm (or cold) running water. Dry thoroughly.
2. Wash fruits and vegetables under running water; do not use soaps.
3. Do not wash animal proteins near your vegetables and fruits because this may contaminate the sink and other surfaces.
4. Separate animal proteins from other foods in the refrigerator and during preparation; to prevent cross-contamination.
5. Thaw and/or marinate foods in the refrigerator; not at room temperature on the counter where bacteria will multiply rapidly.
6. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the food,in several spots, for uniform doneness.
7. Keep cooked food hot and cold food cold during service and refrigerate leftovers within 1-2 hours. Bacteria multiply quickly between 40F and 140F; often referred to as the danger zone.
Dispose of leftovers in a timely manner. Refer to this chart to determine when it’s time to let go of your leftovers: http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/storagetimes.html
Visit the Foodsafety.gov website (www.foodsafety.gov) for more tips and charts to help you prepare, cook, and store your meals safely.
There are many benefits to cooking your own meals. By consistently using and making these food safety practices a habit, you will guarantee that the food you prepare and consume will nourish your body without accidentally harming it.