7 Ways to Protect Yourself from Food Borne Illnesses

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Foodborne illnesses are a scary reality we are faced with on a daily basis, and it is important to understand how to protect yourself from these dangerous bacterias. E.coli and Salmonella are just several of hundreds of extremely deadly foodborne illnesses that infect thousands of Americans every year, so be sure to follow these tips to ensure you are kept safe from falling ill.

Avoid Unpasteurized Juices and Dairy

No matter the current health trends, it is probably smart to stay away from any unpasteurized juice or dairy products. Pasteurization is the process that removes any harmful bacterias like E.coli or Salmonella. Consuming unpasteurized foods can potentially expose your body to unwanted bacteria and lead to illness.

Cook Your Meat Thoroughly

Break out the thermometers and check to ensure that any meat you’re cooking is at the proper temperature. Be sure to get at least 145 °F internally to ensure that no bacteria is left behind before eating. 145 °F is the temperature kills harmful bacteria, making food cooked safe to consume. 

Store Your Fruits and Veggies Properly

Fruits and veggies should be stored far away from meat, eggs, and poultry. This will avoid any cross-contamination and keep everything fresh.

Wash Your Produce

Contaminated lettuce has been the culprit behind many foodborne-illness outbreaks in recent years, so it is extremely important to wash all of your produce before cooking or eating them. Try using a veggie brush that allows you gently scrub your vegetables. While some greens may be labeled ‘pre-washed’, it is always best to rinse all produce before consuming. 

Use Separate Cutting Boards

Stick to plastic cutting boards when cutting any meat. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t be using the same cutting board for your meat and vegetables. Bacteria from raw foods can get stuck in the creases of cutting boards, and makes its way onto other foods it comes in contact with. Using kitchen tools for fresh produce after it comes in contact with raw foods is a big “no-no”, so be mindful of this when cooking.

Stay Up-To-Date With Identified Outbreaks

Be sure to be conscious of any publicly identified outbreaks happening around the country. Avoid any ingredients that have been identified as becoming contaminated with E. Coli bacteria. While it may not be happening in your area, it is still a good idea to refrain from eating these ingredients until the outbreak subsides. Oftentimes, larger corporations use the same distributor for different foods, so an outbreak could potentially put any area at risk. 

Put Food Away Quickly

You don’t want to leave any food out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Be sure to place any leftovers in the fridge or freezer as quickly as possible. Bacteria thrive in room tempered climates, so leaving food out to sit is an ideal environment for bacteria to grow. To avoid risk of ingesting harmful bacteria, always seal food properly and place it in the fridge, and toss food that has been sitting out for more than a couple hours. 

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