Almost everyone had experienced, at least once, that terrible feeling in their gut making them run to the nearest bathroom.
The cause was most likely a tasty meal the previous day that is now greatly regretted.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that 1 in 6 people (48 million Americans) get sick from foodborne illnesses every year, including 128,000 hospitalized and 3000 dying from eating contaminated food.
However, if people could be more responsible with their eating and hygiene habits, they will be able to decrease the number of infections and the multiple bacteria that are wildly growing in their foods.
5. Don’t leave your food out
Leaving food out at room temperature for hours, be it at home, a restaurant buffet, a party, or a cookout, is one of the main sources of food poisoning.
The germs and toxins produced by the bacteria that are commonly found in food can prosper at this temperature. They thrive in the danger zone of 5 to 60 Celsius (40 to 140 Fahrenheit).
Another culprit producing and multiplying toxins at room temperature is Bacillus, which is commonly found in leftovers, sauces, soups, and rice.
Fortunately, infections with these bacteria are rarely going to hospitalize you but would leave you poorly for 24 hours. This is why cases of illness often go unreported.
Spring means the potential for weekend cookouts, so don’t forget to use your fridge and never leave your food out for more than two hours at a time.
4. Be wary of raw poultry
Andrew Roe, Bacteriologist from the University of Glasgow, said that over 500,000 cases of food poisoning in the U.K. are caused by the chicken-loving bacteria, called campylobacter.
This type of bacteria is the source of the majority of foodborne infections nowadays, as the bacteria are widespread in the food chain itself.
Poultry is not just chicken, turkey and duck are also often contaminated with Campylobacter. So, you should treat them exactly as you would chicken. Foodborne illness often comes from improper preparation/thawing of meats.
Favorably, infection is usually self-controlling, which means people recover over time. But this infections’ low harm is why the bacteria are not a priority to remove from the food chain, unlike salmonella which chickens are now all vaccinated against in the UK.
The best way to avoid infection is to wash your hands when handling poultry, keep away from contaminating surfaces, and make sure that the meat is thoroughly cooked. Notably, avoid any risk of raw meat entering your body.
3. Learn the perils of minced meats
It is recommended to step away from your burger if there are any doubts about its cooked status. Minced meat can be a great source of infection and are inherently riskier.
The dangerous aspect lies in the grinding together of meat along with the surface bacteria mixing deep into it, unlike with steak which is an intact piece of meat because any contamination will be just on the surface.
Cooking a steak very well, especially on the outside, reduces your chances of infection, even if remains a bit raw inside. As for ground meat, the outside is mixed with all the meat, which eventually contaminates the rest.
Your favorite burger, with uncontrolled heat, can result in a high risk of making you infected since it is being cooked only on the outside while staying raw inside.
The best solution, if you’re a burger lover, is to make sure you eat your burgers well-done and reject any meat that’s not cooked thoroughly.
2. Don’t forget to wash your fruits
Don’t blame it only on meat and poultry, fruits and vegetables aren’t that safe either.
According to a 2013 study by the CDC, 46% of foodborne illnesses in the United States are caused by vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Leafy veggies were shown to cause the most illness for 22% of all cases in the study, mainly because bacteria, such as E.coli, can live within the leaf tissue.
Many forms of bacteria are naturally found in the skins of fruits and veggies, which is why it is necessary to wash them properly before consumption.
This applies to all fruits with outer skins, like watermelons, cucumbers, and oranges, because bacteria on the surface can easily sneak inside while cutting or peeling those foods.
You can significantly reduce your risk if you thoroughly washed and peeled your veggies and fruits before eating them.
1. Reheat your leftovers properly
The danger of reheating rice is a common myth regarded as a means of food poisoning. This myth is coming from that bacteria found in paddy fields and that’s likely to be present in rice grains.
In fact, the bacteria are killed when the rice is cooked, however, their spores stay alive and can grow back into bacteria if later left out at room temperature.
Luckily, there is always a solution, which is to make sure that your rice is steaming hot when reheated in order to kill any returning bacteria.
This doesn’t apply only for rice but for all reheated food to prevent any new bacteria from spreading on your food as well as in your intestine. Improper management of leftovers leads to illness.
It is recommended not to keep any leftovers for more than 3 to 4 days, and to avoid any leftover food that seems inadequately hot.
Have a ‘healthy’ gut and make a stand!