Ways to reduce your risk of food poisioning
One in six Americans get sick from a foodborne illness
ORLANDO, Fla. –
The CDC estimates that each year, about 48 million people in the United States get sick from a foodborne illness – that’s one in six Americans. Of those, 128,000 people are hospitalized and about 3,000 die. Here’s some advice on what you can do to protect yourself.
According to the New York Times, harmful organisms are now showing up in foods that were not considered a problem years ago; foods like raspberries, cantaloupe, ice cream, parsley and toasted oat cereal. The CDC said this year’s romaine outbreak sickened 197 people in 35 states and so far, there have been a total of five deaths. So how can you keep yourself safe from harmful bacteria? Food safety experts say the most important thing to remember is to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
Food safety expert Joe Kivett told Ivanhoe, “Really the key thing to remember is make sure that food is not in the danger zone for more than two hours. The danger zone is temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees.”
Another tip: don’t defrost frozen foods directly on the counter; this can help create the perfect environment for bacteria to multiply. The USDA suggests thawing it in the refrigerator where it can remain at a safe, constant temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Experts also advise against rinsing raw meat, poultry and fish in the sink. Water can splash bacteria up to three feet surrounding it so it’s best to just move the meat from package to pan.
Also keep your uncooked meats separate from ready to eat food when storing them in the fridge.
“You’ve got that package of chicken and let’s say you put it on the top shelf and it starts to leak and now it’s leaked into your produce drawer … you’ve got a problem,” detailed Kivett.
Try wrapping meat in a second plastic bag and storing it at the bottom of the fridge.
Food safety experts say it’s important to cook meats at the proper temperatures: 165 for poultry, 140 for fresh beef, and 145 for pork and fin fish. For more information on cooking temperatures and other safety guidelines, visit www.foodsafety.gov.
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