There are lots of ways to prevent food poisoning, and having them in your arsenal of knowledge can keep you safe, no matter where you choose to eat. Whether you’re dining out or cooking at home, there are several easy steps you can take to keep the nastiness that is food borne illness away. No one wants to deal with the vomiting, diarrhea, chills and other symptoms that go with it, so use these ways to prevent food poisoning and you’ll be good to go.
1. Wash Your Hands
The single best one of the ways to prevent food poisoning is also the easiest. It’s simply to wash your hands often. This applies more to cooking at home than eating in a restaurant, but you can hope the staff there follows this rule as well. Make sure you use warm, soapy water before you cook to prevent passing bacteria and germs that way, then again when you’re done. Also, wash up after handling raw meat or eggs.
2. Keep Food at the Right Temperature
This means that you should leave cold foods in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them. Also, when you get home from food shopping, place everything in the right place immediately. This helps prevent food from spoiling, which can make you seriously sick and you might not even know it’s a danger.
3. Keep Raw Foods Separate
When you cook, foods that come into contact with raw meat or eggs can become contaminated and make you sick. That’s particularly true if you plan to eat them as is. Handle raw foods separately from cooked ones as well as those that you plan to serve raw, such as fruits or vegetables. Also, keep meats and eggs on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator to prevent spills or breaks from contaminating foods underneath.
4. Thaw in the Refrigerator
Many a time have I discovered that I forgot to thaw something for dinner so I toss it on the counter so it defrosts faster. Turns out this is pretty unsafe. It’s a better idea to thaw foods in the refrigerator so they don’t get too warm, which keeps bacteria that can make you sick from growing and multiplying. In a pinch, use the microwave on the defrost setting.
5. Check Expiration Dates
It’s really easy to take a quick glance at the expiration date on your foods. That date tells you if the item is past its prime. The sell by date isn’t the same and most foods are still good for a few days after that date. However, the expiration date will let you know when the food is no longer good. Past that date? Throw it away!
6. Choose Reputable Restaurants
Most chain restaurants are safe because they have to adhere to strict health code and corporate guidelines. Privately owned places are supposed to follow the same rules, but may be more lax about it because they don’t have the mother company looking over their shoulder all the time. In general, you want to be sure the place is clean, the employees are tidy and well groomed and the staff doesn’t act like they have something to hide. You can always check the health code violations online too.
7. Toss It
If you’re ever in doubt about a food or restaurant, don’t eat the food and find a different dining establishment. If you notice that food looks or smells funny, your best bet is to throw it away rather than taking the chance. Use this mantra – “When in doubt, throw it out.”
Have you ever had food poisoning? I have several times and I wouldn’t wish that misery on my worst enemy. It’s horrible! Do you have any other easy tips you can add to the list?