20 Food Safety Tips We Should All Know
National Food Safety Month started in 1994 and is observed every year during September. The purpose of this celebration is to increase awareness of food safety education.
Most of us think we know how to handle food products properly, however, according to the CDC
Every year, 1 in 6 Americans gets sick, 128,000 need hospitalization, and 3000 die from eating contaminated food.
It takes just a few minutes to review these Food Safety Tips to avoid a potential food poisoning.
Who Is at Risk of Food Poisoning?
Anyone can get food poisoning; however, the following groups have a higher risk of getting sick:
- Children under the age of 5
- Adults over 65
- Individuals with chronic diseases or those taking medications that weaken their immune systems
- Pregnant women
While the prospect of getting food poisoning can be scary, there is no reason why you can’t enjoy your food. All you need to do is follow these food safety tips.
1. Keep your kitchen, and cooking utensils clean
2. Avoid buying or eating food when the package has a tear, is leaking, bulging, or the containers are rusted
3. Always check the expiration date on the packaging, and don’t eat the food if it’s expired
4. Be aware of any local, state, or national food recalls or alerts. If you bought a recalled item, take it back to the store immediately
5. Follow the storage instructions on the food labels
6. Your refrigerator should be at 40 degrees F or less, while your freezer should be at 0 degrees F or less
7. Make sure you cook or freeze fresh meat or fish within two days of purchase
8. Securely wrap meats and poultry to prevent them from leaking and contaminating other foods=
9. Wash your hands before and after you handle food products
10. Wash any fruit or vegetable before you eat it even if it looks clean
11. Wash lettuce leaves individually to make sure you remove any dirt or insects stuck on the leaves
12. Thoroughly wash cutting boards, utensils and any hard surface that had contact with raw meats, poultry, or fish
13. Keep raw and cooked foods apart
14. Raw meats need to reach a specific temperature when cooking to kill any germs or bacteria. Follow this easy chart to avoid eating undercooked meats:
Type of Meat
Ground Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb
Minimum Cooking Temperature
15. Cook fish until it flakes, shrimp until they turn an opaque pink color, and oysters until they become plump
16. Don’t leave leftovers out for more than 2 hours, 1 hour on hot days
17. Always marinate your meats in a covered container and place them in the fridge
18. Serve and maintain hot foods at a temperature of at least 140°F
19. Cold dishes need to be served and kept at a temperature of 40°F or lower
20. Thaw your frozen foods in the fridge or submerge them in cold water, so they thaw faster. Change the water every half hour
Know Where to Go in Case of an Emergency.
Foodborne Germs and When to Come to Altus Emergency Centers
Unfortunately, there are instances that even though you follow the wisdom of these food safety tips, you may get sick. As there are some foodborne illnesses worse than others, please keep these warning signs in mind to know when to go to the nearest ER.
The top five foodborne illness-causing germs and viruses are:
- Norovirus: This highly contagious virus causes vomiting and diarrhea.
- Salmonella: This bacterium causes diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most patients recover without treatment. However, for some people, the disease can become severe enough to require hospitalization.
- Clostridium perfringens: This bacterium is present in raw meat and poultry. C. perfringens causes diarrhea and abdominal cramps within 6 to 24 hours of infection.
- Campylobacter: Approximately 1.3 million Americans get sick from this bacterium every year. Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps.
- Staphylococcal (Staph): Staph food poisoning causes a sudden onset of nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea.
You should call 911 or have someone drive you to our nearest Altus Emergency Center if you experience any of the following:
- Severe diarrhea or diarrhea that lasts more than three days
- Frequent vomiting and not being able to keep liquids down
- A fever that is higher than 101°F
- Bloody vomit or stools
- Extreme abdominal pain or cramping
- Not urinating or have very dark urine
- Intense muscle cramps
- Dizziness or confusion
- Difficulty swallowing
- Blurry vision
- Muscle weakness or a tingling sensation in the arms
Altus Emergency Centers is available to treat food poisoning patients 24/7 even on weekends and holidays.
You can use our online check-in form to let us know you are on your way to our facility and the severity of your symptoms. Our nurses and doctors will be waiting for you at the door.
If your symptoms are severe enough to require hospitalization, we will arrange for your transfer to the nearest hospital.