Researchers estimated that each year about 30 percent of people in developed countries suffer from food-borne illness. In poorer countries, foodborne and waterborne diseases kill millions – mostly children- every year. So what can you do to protect yourself and probably your family from food-borne illness?
Consider these tips to make your food safer.
1. Shop wisely.
When shopping, shop for non-perishable food first. In addition, if you buy things that were in the freezers, leave them there until the end of your shopping. Also, if you are buying hot food, pick it up just before you return home.
2. Go for fresh food.
Try to purchase fresh food when possible. You can go to the market early in the morning when the food is fresher and buy fresh meat slaughtered that day. If necessary, freeze what you don’t use.
3. Inspect your food.
If the food is wrapped, inspect the packaging. Damaged packages can allow poisonous bacteria to enter the food. Check the expiry date printed on packaged food. Why? Expert warns that even if expired food looks, smells, and tastes good, it can still make you sick. Teach your children to do the same.
4. Pack safely.
If you use a reusable shopping bag or plastic bin, wash it out frequently with hot soapy water. Carry meat and fish in separate bins or bags so they do not contaminate other food. You can put frozen foods in insulated bags if you live very far away from the market.
5. Wash your hands.
It is said that hand spread an estimated 80 percent of common infectious diseases like the common cold and flu. So wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before eating, after using the toilet, and when preparing a meal.
6. Keep your kitchen clean.
One study revealed that while the bathroom tended to be the cleanest place in the home, the sites in the household that were contaminated with the most fecal bacteria were the sponge/dishcloths in the kitchen. Therefore, change dishcloths frequently, and use hot soapy water or disinfectant to clean kitchen surfaces.
7. Rinse thoroughly.
Most likely, before products are sold, they may have been contaminated by unclean water, animal fecal matter, or other raw food items. Therefore, even if you plan to peel fruits or vegetables, rinse them thoroughly to remove harmful bacteria.
8. Separate raw meat.
To prevent the spread of bacteria, seal or securely wrap all raw meat, poultry, and seafood, and separate them from other food. Separate the cutting board and knife for those foods, and wash them thoroughly with soap and hot water after use.
9. Do not thaw meat at room temperature.
Instead, thaw food in the refrigerator, in a microwave, or under cold water in a package that will not leak.
10. Cook thoroughly.
According to World Health Organization, “proper cooking kills almost all dangerous microorganisms.” When cooking food, especially soup and stew, make sure it reaches 70 degree Celsius or even higher for food such as poultry. Serve them when still warm. Keep cold food cold and hot food hot. If you store leftovers in the refrigerator, eat them within three to four days.
11. Be observant when eating out.
Jeff , healthy and energetic 38-year-old man, took his family out to eat at a restaurant near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. A month later, Jeff died of acute liver failure. The culprit? Green onion in his meal— contaminated with hepatitis A. Restaurant food is associated with about half the food-borne disease outbreaks. True, if you choose to eat at a restaurant, look around. Is the table clean, the tablecloths, utensils, and the servers, are they clean and tidy? If not, leave and look for another restaurant. Beware of doggie bags.
Finally, observe this code of rules of health: Avoid utensils and dishes that touched a dead animal. Do not eat an animal that died by itself. Eat leftovers within a short period.