Food poisoning can be a serious problem for anyone, but it becomes significantly more dangerous in very young children or adults over age 60. Dehydration can occur much more quickly at this age, and a lowered immune response makes recovery more challenging.
With numerous holiday parties and family gatherings to attend this month, we all face an increased risk of food borne illness. Follow these tips to ward of food poisoning.
Exercise extra caution with raw meats and seafood. Most people don’t eat these foods raw, anyway. But you should also be careful while preparing them. Wash your hands thoroughly after touching raw meat, and disinfect any surfaces that meat or seafood have touched. Don’t use the same knife or cutting board for vegetables later.
Pay attention to internal temperatures. When cooking meats, make sure a food thermometer inserted into the deepest part of the meat shows readings of at least…
- 165 degrees for poultry (chicken or turkey)
- 160 degrees for ground beef
- 145 degrees for beef steaks and roasts, and for pork
Check expiration dates. This is particularly important for lunch meats, dairy, and eggs. Don’t consume anything past its due date.
Wash your fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables come into contact with groundwater, various surfaces, and many pairs of hands before they finally reach their final destination in your refrigerator. Wash all produce before eating it.
Keep an eye on your countertops. If someone leaves milk, eggs, or other food products sitting out, get them back in the refrigerator right away. Bacteria begin to multiply in foods when they are allowed to warm to room temperature.
Avoid unpasteurized foods. Pasteurization is the process that kills bacteria and viruses, but some foods are sold unpasteurized. Look out for soft cheeses like brie and camembert, unpasteurized milk, and some juices and ciders.
Be careful with party food. Avoid foods that have been sitting on the buffet for hours, in which bacteria might have grown. These items have also been exposed to many pairs of hands and, unfortunately, sneezes as well.
Remember to follow these rules in restaurants as well as at home. It’s tempting to become more relaxed about our standards when busy traveling, but that would be the very worst time to get sick! And of course, if you do show symptoms of food poisoning (vomiting or diarrhea for more than a few hours) head straight to the emergency room.