Food poisoning is caused by infectious organisms (bacteria, viruses, and parasites) that are lurking in contaminated food. What most people ignore is that contamination can also occur at home when the food is improperly handled or cooked.
The awful symptoms of food poisoning can begin within a few hours of consuming contaminated food and can often include diarrhea, vomiting, or nausea. In worst cases, people need to go to the hospital.
Anyone who’s ever experienced food poisoning will absolutely never want to have it again. However, many people are unaware of some basic food safety rules, or just don’t take them seriously enough, making their chances of getting sick higher.
To stay healthy and happy this summer, avoid these 7 common kitchen mistakes that cause food poisoning
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1. Keeping Your Fridge Too Warm
I’m truly obsessed with food safety, but after checking my fridge, I was surprised to discover that even though it felt cold inside, it was actually 51 °F (which is way too warm).
According to food safety experts, your fridge should always be set at 40 °F or below. Any warmer temperatures can lead to bacteria growth, which increases your risk of getting ill.
In order to avoid food poisoning, you should use a digital thermometer to monitor the temperature as often as possible, and yes, even if your fridge has a temperature display.
2. Storing Too Much Food in the Fridge
Placing many items together on the fridge’s shelves can prevent proper cooling and air circulation.
On the other side, crowding your freezer can be quite effective in helping you keep many goodies last longer.
In fact, it’s easy to pack your freezer and avoid food poisoning at the same time, all you need to do is make sure to leave a small space between containers in your fridge.
3. Defrosting on the Top Shelf
Although it’s better than defrosting meat, fish, or poultry out on the counter, many people place raw meat on the top shelf.
That’s actually a huge mistake because any drips are able to contaminate the food below.
To prevent food poisoning, you need to always defrost your protein-rich foods in the package, container, or on a plate, on the fridge’s bottom shelf.
4. Not Washing Food before Cutting
The skin of melons, as well as other fruits that grow in the ground, often contain dangerous pathogens, including the deadly Listeria, which was recently found lurking on cantaloupes.
In case you happen to cut these fruits open without washing them, the knife can easily transfer the pathogens into the fruits.
To prevent food poisoning, you should spray your fruits with pathogen-killing vinegar and wait thirty seconds before cutting. Also, you should absolutely avoid purchasing any precut fruits and vegetables.
5. Cleaning the Cutting Board Incorrectly
You can’t get rid of the germs found on raw meat and poultry, or even the veggies that have been associated with salmonella outbreaks, only by hand-washing your board!
You should know that even soap and very hot water can’t help you kill off these harmful germs.
So, to protect yourself from food poisoning, you should sanitize your cutting boards by cleaning them in the dishwasher or pouring boiling water over them.
6. Reusing Grilling Tongs
You probably know that using the same plate for raw and cooked meat or poultry is a very bad idea. However, you could still contaminate your food by using the same grilling tongs or spatulas.
In order to avoid food poisoning, here’s what you need to do after placing raw foods on the grill: First, place the tips of meat tongs on the grill and close the cover while keeping the tongs’ handles on the outside, then, let the heat of the grill kill all bacteria, and so, you can safely use them again.
7. Not Following the Two-Hour Rule
Well, that chicken salad may still seem fresh and taste so good. However, if it’s been sitting out for more than 2 hours, eating it would put you at risk of serious illness.
This is also applied to any other prepared food that you’ve left exposed at room temperature, particularly during the summer.
In order to protect yourself from food poisoning, you need to refrigerate all your foods within 2 hours of cooking, and if you don’t, you should probably just throw them away. It’s just not worth getting sick.