Food Safety

Hello! Hope everyone is having a good week. I cannot believe that summer is winding down!

Today I wanted to write about food safety and proper handling. I think this topic is especially relevant during the summertime because of all of the picnics and gatherings we attend that include prepared food. Those who know me well know that I am very particular about food safety!

How do you get food poisoning?

Food poisoning results when you ingest food that contain certain bacteria or viruses (most commonly norovirus, Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, and Campylobacter). Once ingested, these bacteria pass through the stomach into the intestine and then attach to the walls of the intestine and begin to multiply. Some bacteria can produce a toxin that invades the bloodstream and travels to other tissues. Symptoms of food poisoning depend of what type of germ was ingested.

What are symptoms of food poisoning? When should I seek medical attention?

Symptoms of food poisoning typically include vomiting and diarrhea. Severe symptoms that should prompt you to see a medical provider include:

  • High fever
  • Dehydration
  • Prolonged vomiting keeping you from keeping liquids down
  • Blood in the stool
  • Diarrhea for more than 3 days

Treatment for food poisoning is usually supportive (fluids, pain/fever relief). Antibiotics are not usually given because food poisoning is often caused by a virus, thus an antibiotic will not help. Even in illness is bacterial, it usually passes on its own. Careful hand washing is very important to prevent spread to other people.

How can I keep myself and my family safe?

There are four main things to keep in mind when keeping the food you prepare safe.

  1. CLEAN
    • Wash your hands often! Be sure to keep kitchen tools, utensils, cutting boards, etc clean
    • Always wash raw fruits and vegetables before eating
  2. SEPARATE
    • Keep raw foods such as meat and eggs away from ready-to-eat foods as contamination can easily occur
    • This also goes for cutting boards, plates, and other surfaces used to hold raw meat (don’t put your prepared meat on the same plate that held the raw meat!)
  3. COOK
    • The only surefire way to know if food is cooked thoroughly is with a food thermometer
    • Most of the time, meat and microwaved food should reach 165 degrees before it is “done”
  4. CHILL
    • Bacteria can grow in prepared foods if not refrigerated within two hours (make it one hour if it is hot outside)
    • Refrigerator temperature should be 40 degrees or below
    • Thaw or marinate raw meat in the refrigerator, not at room temperature

Check out the CDC for more information about food safety, up to date notifications about foodborne outbreaks, and restaurant food safety.

Disclaimer: This post is not to substitute for medical advice. If you think you are having a problem, contact your healthcare provider who knows your health history.