(WellnessPursuits.com) – With worry about the Coronavirus everywhere we turn, the last thing we need is to get food poisoning on top of it. Whether or not you’re self quarantined or there’s a national quarantine where we must stay in our homes, we need to be conscious of the fact that food can go bad.
That’s the last thing we need! Please be aware that it’s better to be hungry than eat something questionable. Most canned goods are safe for a long time, but food that we’ve cooked can only last 3-4 days under refrigeration before you MUST throw it out.
Food poisoning is usually caused by contamination with bacteria, parasites and viruses. None of us want to deal with the symptoms that come with it. Diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain are some of the most common symptoms. When it comes to food poisoning, the best defense is a good offense – avoiding it altogether.
So what can you do? Here are five helpful tips:
1. Wash Your Hands Well And Often
Although it might seem obvious, washing your hands is a major way to stop the spread of germs to food. Believe it or not, many of us don’t wash properly after using the bathroom or touching any surfaces that could harbor organisms (most obvious are our phones, computers and remotes) before handling food.
Once you’re in the kitchen, remember that if you handle any raw meat, wash your hands before touching anything else. Humming the “Happy Birthday” song while washing your hands is a great way to make sure you’ve spent enough time cleaning them.
2. Thoroughly Rinse Your Produce
Fresh produce can be so healthy for us, but not if they’re carrying a host of really nasty bugs. Even organic produce is not necessarily safe. There’s no way to tell if the produce has been contaminated, either during picking or while in the store. You don’t know who has handled your produce, if they were already ill, were carriers of Covid-19 or some other organism and how clean their hands were.
When rinsing, use cold water (lots of it) and make sure all the multi-parts of the produce (leaves, stems, florets etc.) have had an ample share of rinsing. Water alone won’t kill bacteria and viruses but it will dilute them.
Some possibly helpful things you can add to the rinse water is white vinegar or salt. Both can change the taste of your food but they’re both effective in killing SOME types of bacteria (not all, and won’t kill viruses). If you do add either white vinegar or salt to the water, rinse thoroughly with fresh water afterwards to minimize the leftover taste.
The goal is to end up with as few organisms on your fresh produce as possible. If you’re healthy, your body’s natural immune system should be able to handle the small amount of organisms left on your fresh produce. If your health is in question, it’s best to cook your produce to make sure that there are no live organisms left to deal with.
3. Make Sure Meats are Well-Cooked
Proper cooking temperatures are key when it comes to killing bacteria, so it’s important to know what temperatures to use. An internal thermometer will ensure your meats have been cooked safely. If something doesn’t look done, put it back in the oven for everyone’s safety.
4. Pay Attention to Smell
Smell can present an obvious giveaway when you’re pulling the foods out of the refrigerator. If you notice the meat, eggs or other foods you plan on cooking have a rotten or even just an “off” smell, it’s time to throw it away. While this might seem wasteful, especially in this time when food supplies may be limited, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
5. Throw Away if Not Refrigerated
If you accidentally left food out after dinner and are wondering if it is worth saving, figure out how long it has been sitting out for. A common rule of thumb is to throw out anything that has been sitting out for longer than two hours, especially if it was cooked at 90 degrees or higher.
The prospect of getting food poisoning may seem overwhelming on top of the Coronavirus crisis we’re all dealing with, but it’s more often than not avoidable if you follow basic food safety rules. By cooking at the right temperature, paying attention to the appearance and smell of food, and throwing away when necessary, the chances of suffering with food poisoning can be greatly limited.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Pursuits
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