Prevention of Food poisoning


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Prevention list: Methods of prevention of Food poisoning mentioned in various sources includes those listed below. This prevention information is gathered from various sources, and may be inaccurate or incomplete. None of these methods guarantee prevention of Food poisoning.

  • Wash hands - when preparing food, touching raw food, changing diapers, etc.
  • Cook beef properly
  • Cook chicken properly
  • Cook eggs properly
  • Wash fruits and vegetables

Prevention of Food poisoning: Most cases of foodborne illness can be prevented through proper cooking or processing of food, which kills bacteria. In addition, because bacteria multiply rapidly between 40F and 140F, food must be kept out of this "danger zone."

To prevent harmful bacteria from growing in food, always

  • Refrigerate foods promptly. If you let prepared food stand at room temperature for more than 2 hours, it may not be safe to eat. Set your refrigerator at 40F or lower and your freezer at 0F.

  • Cook food to the appropriate temperature (145F for roasts, steaks, and chops of beef, veal, and lamb; 160F for pork, ground veal, and ground beef; 165F for ground poultry; and 180F for whole poultry). Use a thermometer to be sure! Foods are properly cooked only when they are heated long enough and at a high enough temperature to kill the harmful bacteria that cause illness.

  • Prevent cross-contamination. Bacteria can spread from one food product to another throughout the kitchen and can get onto cutting boards, knives, sponges, and countertops. So keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and their juices away from other foods that are ready to eat.

  • Handle food properly. Always wash your hands before touching food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers, or handling pets, as well as after handling raw meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, or eggs. Clean surfaces well before preparing food on them.

  • Keep cold food cold and hot food hot.

  • Maintain hot cooked food at 140F or higher.

  • Reheat cooked food to at least 165F.

  • Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared food, and leftovers within 2 hours.

  • Never defrost food on the kitchen counter. Use the refrigerator, cold running water, or the microwave oven.

  • Never let food marinate at room temperature; refrigerate it.

  • Divide large amounts of leftovers into small, shallow containers for quick cooling in the refrigerator.

  • Remove the stuffing immediately from poultry and other meats and refrigerate it in a separate container.

  • Do not pack the refrigerator. Cool air must circulate to keep food safe.

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A few simple precautions can reduce the risk of foodborne diseases: 

COOK meat, poultry and eggs thoroughly.  Using a thermometer to measure the internal temperature of meat is a good way to be sure that it is cooked sufficiently to kill bacteria.  For example, ground beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160o F.  Eggs should be cooked until the yolk is firm. 

SEPARATE: Don't cross-contaminate one food with another.  Avoid cross-contaminating foods by washing hands, utensils, and cutting boards after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry and before they touch another food.  Put cooked meat on a clean platter, rather back on one that held the raw meat. 

CHILL: Refrigerate leftovers promptly.  Bacteria can grow quickly at room temperature, so refrigerate leftover foods if they are not going to be eaten within 4 hours.  Large volumes of food will cool more quickly if they are divided into several shallow containers for refrigeration. 

CLEAN: Wash produce.  Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables in running tap water to remove visible dirt and grime.  Remove and discard the outermost leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage.  Because bacteria can grow well on the cut surface of fruit or vegetable, be careful not to contaminate these foods while slicing them up on the cutting board, and avoid leaving cut produce at room temperature for many hours. Dont be a source of foodborne illness yourself.  Wash your hands with soap and water before preparing food.  Avoid preparing food for others if you yourself have a diarrheal illness.  Changing a babys diaper while preparing food is a bad idea that can easily spread illness. 

REPORT: Report suspected foodborne illnesses to your local health department.  The local public health department is an important part of the food safety system. Often calls from concerned citizens are how outbreaks are first detected.  If a public health official contacts you to find our more about an illness you had, your cooperation is important.  In public health investigations, it can be as important to talk to healthy people as to ill people.  Your cooperation may be needed even if you are not ill.

2

Treating raw meat and poultry with irradiation at the slaughter plant could eliminate bacteria commonly found on raw meat and raw poultry, such as E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and Campylobacter. These organisms currently cause millions of infections and thousands of hospitalizations in the United States every year. Irradiating prepared ready-to-eat meats like hot dogs and deli meats, could eliminate the risk of Listeria from such foods. Irradiation could also eliminate parasites like Cyclospora and bacteria like Shigella and Salmonella from fresh produce. The potential benefit is also great for those dry foods that might be stored for long times and transported over great distances, such as spices and grains. Animal feeds are often contaminated with bacteria like Salmonella. Irradiation of animal feeds could prevent the spread of Salmonella and other pathogens to livestock through feeds. 3

Some basic ways to help protect yourself from being infected by most foodborne diseases include:

  • Wash your hands carefully before preparing food.
  • Thoroughly cook beef and beef products, especially hamburger.
  • Thoroughly cook poultry and eggs.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly, especially those that will not be cooked.
  • Don't drink unpasteurized milk and juices and untreated surface water.
  • Wash your hands, utensils, and kitchen surfaces with hot soapy water after they touch raw meat or poultry.
  • Wash your hands carefully after changing infant diapers or cleaning up animal feces.
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Footnotes:
1. excerpt from Bacteria and Foodborne Illness: NIDDK
2. excerpt from Foodborne Infections General: DBMD
3. excerpt from Frequently Asked Questions about Food Irradiation: DBMD
4. excerpt from Foodborne Diseases, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID

Last revision: May 27, 2003

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