How To Prevent Foodborne Illnesses

Foodborne illnesses have the potential to be serious issues with many adverse effects. Therefore, it is vital to take the proper precautions to avoid contracting an illness or spreading it to others through ineffective cooking and cleaning methods. It is essential to understand the various causes of foodborne illnesses in the first place to do this. Some of the most common foodborne illnesses include norovirus, salmonella, hepatitis A, E. coli, and listeria. Typically, a lack of hygiene and unclean cooking and prepping surfaces causes these conditions. The following includes a closer look at measures you can take to prevent the spread of these types of illnesses.

Clean Hands And Surfaces


As previously mentioned, failing to clean hands and surfaces is the main way foodborne illnesses are spread. Therefore, it is important to clean your hands after using the restroom, before consuming food, before cooking, after coming into contact with a sick person, after touching uncooked meat or petting an animal. There are also other times you may come into contact with potentially dangerous substances, such as trash. It is important to use discretion as well as common sense to practice good personal hygiene and prevent the spread of germs. It is also important to keep surfaces and equipment that come into contact with food clean and sanitized. Use detergents or soaps to clean surfaces and equipment, and to sanitize, use the appropriate sanitizing chemicals. Also, a safer alternative is using water hot enough to kill the germs, which is 167 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter. Lastly, when using chemical sanitizing products, it is important to remove any residue.

Continue reading for more on how to prevent foodborne illness from occurring.

Avoid Cross-Contamination


It is important to avoid cross-contamination, defined as unintentionally transferring germs from object to another. It is crucial to keep hands, surfaces, and equipment clean and sanitized to do so, as previously mentioned. Also, avoid keeping cooked food and food ready to be consumed away from raw meat and eggs. Storing them near each other can be dangerous, and it is also important not to prep them on the same surfaces without utilizing the proper cleaning methods beforehand. This means you should use separate cutting boards for things like produce and meats. Also, ensure you are not using utensils that have come into contact with raw meats on other types of foods. Use clean knives for chopping, as well as clean utensils for stirring food. Overall, being well-informed about cross-contamination and practicing the proper procedures can help prevent illnesses in the long run.

Continue reading for information on cooking temperature and foodborne illnesses.

Cook To Proper Temperature


It is easy to be in a hurry while cooking. However, it is important not to rush the process and cook to proper temperature because, often, many foods require a certain internal temperature before they are safe to consume. For example, meat and eggs need to be cooked at a required temperature for harmful bacteria such as E. coli and listeria to be effectively eliminated. Other foods can also be dangerous when under-cooked, such as beans. Under-cooked and raw beans contain lectin, which can be toxic if consumed. Therefore, when cooking, it is vital to research the minimum temperature requirements for foods to avoid making yourself and others sick.

Keep going for another crucial tip to prevent foodborne illnesses.

Refrigerate And Freeze Promptly


How food is stored after it is cooked is also important. If food is left sitting out, harmful bacteria can begin to grow, which will make the food dangerous if consumed. This is why it is vital to refrigerate and freeze food promptly. Typically, it is recommended to only leave food out for two hours before refrigerating it. Also, leftovers should only be left in the refrigerator for three to four days. After this time, they start to go bad and can become dangerous to consume. If you need to preserve food for longer, freeze it. Food will typically last longer in the freezer, but it is important to research the specific items you are freezing and how long they can last frozen.

Continue for the final tip on preventing foodborne illness, related to washing food.

Guide For Washing Food


Properly washing food is another important factor to take into consideration, which is why it is beneficial to research and develop a guide for washing food. Typically, washing raw meat is not recommended because it can promote cross-contamination to utensils and surfaces, and this is also true for eggs. However, it is recommended to wash produce with water to remove excess dirt, which can harbor bacteria. With certain foods, such as potatoes, you can also use a brush to help remove the dirt. Lastly, it is not recommended to use any type of soap on produce because they can leave behind harmful residue you don't want to consume.

HealthPrep Staff