Food poisoning (or food borne illness) happens when you get sick from eating or drinking something that has harmful germs
in it – like bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Two common causes of food poisoning are E. coli and Salmonella.
Following good habits like these can help protect you and your family from food poisoning:
* Buy food from stores that look and smell clean.
* Don’t buy food past “sell by,” “use by,” or other expiration dates.
* Wash your hands often with warm water and soap – especially before and after touching food.
* Make sure food is cooked to a safe temperature.
* Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood away from cooked and ready-to-eat food.
* Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. This helps prevent bacteria from growing.
You can get food poisoning from eating bad (contaminated) food. Bacteria are the most common cause of food poisoning. Bacteria can get into food in several ways.
* Raw meat, poultry (like chicken and turkey), fish, vegetables, and fruit may pick up bacteria where they are grown or packaged.
* Foods can also pick up bacteria at the store or in the kitchen. This can happen when you don't wash your hands – or when food that needs to be kept cold is left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
Signs of food poisoning can start hours or even days after eating bad food. Usually the effects only last for 1 or 2 days, but they may last up to 2 weeks.
The treatment for most cases of food poisoning is to drink lots of fluids, like water. For a more serious illness, you may need treatment at a hospital.
Follow these simple steps to keep your family safe from food poisoning, Follow these other safety tips when you choose food at the store:
* Check the expiration (“use by” or “sell by”) dates on everything you buy.
* Don’t buy cans that are leaking, bulging, rusty, or badly dented.
* Don’t buy bottles or jars with “popped” lids or broken seals.
* Make sure frozen food packages aren’t open or crushed.
* Buy eggs that have been kept in the store’s refrigerated section. Make sure they are free of cracks and liquid.
* Put meat, fish, and poultry (like chicken and turkey) in plastic bags – or separate them from other food in your shopping cart. This will keep them from dripping onto your other food.
* Shop for frozen foods last so they are less likely to thaw before you get them home.
* Don't buy packages with frost or ice crystals – these are signs that the food became warm and then refroze.
To keep cold foods safe, follow these tips:
* Put cold food in the refrigerator within 2 hours. If it’s a hot day – over 90 °F (degrees Fahrenheit) – refrigerate cold foods within 1 hour.
* If you have other errands to do, save food shopping for last.
* If you live far from the store, pack a cooler with ice for your cold items.
* If it’s a hot day and you have the air conditioning on in your car, keep groceries in the passenger area instead of the trunk. This will help keep them cool.
* Put cold foods in the refrigerator or freezer as soon as you get home.
After you get your groceries home and stored away safely, use the following tips to help prevent food poisoning.
Wash your hands often with warm water and soap, especially:
* Before and after handling food
* After using the bathroom
* After changing a diaper
* After touching pets
Make sure to wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils (like knives and spoons), and counters with hot, soapy water after preparing food.
Separate raw meat, poultry, and seafood from ready-to-eat foods.
Use one cutting board for raw meat, poultry, and seafood and another one for foods that won't be cooked (like vegetables and fruits). If you have only one cutting board, wash it with hot soapy water after you prepare each type of food.
Place cooked food on a clean plate. Don’t use a plate that had raw or uncooked food on it – especially raw meat, poultry, or seafood.
Wash all fruits and vegetables under running water, even if you plan to cut or peel them.
You can’t tell if meat, poultry, and eggs are cooked just by looking at them.
The only way to be sure food is cooked safely is to use a food thermometer. A food thermometer checks the temperature inside the food to make sure the food is safe to eat.
Keep appliance thermometers in the refrigerator and freezer to make sure they are staying at the correct temperatures.
Throw away food that’s been left at room temperature for more than 2 hours. If it’s a hot day (over 90 °F), throw away food left out for more than 1 hour.
Stay safe from food poisoning when you eat out.
These tips can help you enjoy healthy, safe meals away from home.
* See if a restaurant looks clean before you even sit down. If the restaurant doesn’t look and smell clean, eat somewhere else.
* Order your food fully cooked (well-done), especially if it’s meat, poultry, fish, or eggs. Cooking kills germs.
* To be safe, hot food needs to be served hot, and cold food needs to be served cold. Send back your dish if it’s the wrong temperature.