Eating healthy foods will help you to boost your immune system, but what if it’s the foods themselves making you sick? Food born illness can cause food poisoning and a variety of other more dangerous diseases. They are a real threat to our bodies. Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to prevent food born illnesses. Following safety tips when handling, preparing, and storing food is very important.
First and foremost, you should be concerned with the temperature of your foods. When cooking meat, make sure to use a thermometer so you know your meat is reaching the proper internal temperatures. Some meats, like beef, can be served rare safely, but the correct temperature becomes crucial as it kills any bacteria that may be growing on the meat. In the case of burgers and other loaf meats that have been ground and formed into patties, they should not be eaten rare. The bacteria can be found inside the meat as well as on the outside. You will be at risk if you do not cook ground meats for a longer period of time to kill any bacteria.
Chicken is the worst culprit for food born illness so extra care should be taken when cooking chicken. Under no circumstances should chicken be cooked rare or eaten under cooked. When chicken is fully cooked the meat will be white with no signs of pink and the juice will run clear.
After your food is cooked, you should continue to monitor temperature. Simply put, keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Hot foods should be kept at temperatures above 140 degrees Fahrenheit, while cold foods should be kept at temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The range between that is where bacteria can grow. When letting food cool for refrigeration, place in the refrigerator after no more than two hours, and when thawing meals, do so in a bowl or pan in the refrigerator, rather than at room temperature.
Cross contamination is a huge culprit when you are concerned with preventing illness with your food. Cross contamination is basically the moving of bacteria from one dish to another. This happens when you use dirty cutting boards, don’t wash your dishes properly, and use the same utensil for all of your food. If you use a knife to cut raw chicken and then use that same knife to cut your food after it has been cooked, some of the bacteria from the raw chicken will remain on the knife and be transferred to your cooked food. This can make you very ill. Make sure that you are using a clean work space and clean tools whenever you cook. It’s a good idea to label cutting boards so that you use one for meat and a different one for vegetables or breads.
Along with using a clean environment, you should make sure that you wash your hands regularly. Every time you touch raw foods, you should use disinfecting hand soap and hot water to make sure that no bacteria remains on your hands. Making sure that your food is safe is one of the most important parts of healthy eating, so don’t overlook this step the next time you prepare a meal.
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