4 Food Safety Tips to Always Keep in Mind
Most of us know eating raw chicken is never recommended, but are there other food safety tips you should know about to avoid food poisoning? Here are four that may surprise you.
Related: The Gross Facts About Food Poisoning
#1 Listeria in Fresh Produce
WebMD says consumers should beware of contaminated fresh produce. In 2011, the listeria bacteria spread like wildflowers and was found in all types of fresh produce, but it's mostly prominent in melons.
Symptoms of the ingested bacteria include muscle aches, fever, nausea, and diarrhea. The scary thing is the symptoms may not appear for up to two months after eating the contaminated produce. Keep the listeria bacteria at bay by scrubbing raw produce and making sure produce is kept cold, below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
#2 E. coli in Juices and Milk
You've probably heard about the dangers of the E. coli bacteria in raw meat but did you know it can also be found in unpasteurized juices or milk? Ingesting unpasteurized juices or milk will wreak havoc to your digestive system. Diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea are common symptoms.
If you purchase all your juices and milk from grocery stores, rest assured they're pasteurized. Be wary of roadside stands, farms, and even the juices or milk in some health food stores. Read the label to ensure these liquids are pasteurized to avoid the E. coli bacteria. If you do ingest unpasteurized juices or milk and your symptoms are severe, head to a nearby urgent care center for treatment. If you simply must have your favorite farm cider, boil it before drinking.
#3 Botulism in Canned Foods
Again, WebMD warns botulism can be found in canned foods, especially those "improperly canned or preserved." The most common threats are in home canned items, honey, cured meats, and smoked, fermented, or salted fish.
Botulism poisoning symptoms include vomiting, difficulty breathing or swallowing, blurred or double vision and weakness, even paralysis. Never give honey to children under 12 months of age and avoid canned foods where the container is bulging or leaking. Another size of bad canned foods is if the liquid insider "spurts out upon opening," says WebMD. If you suspect botulism poisoning, head to retail clinics to obtain immediate urgent care or call 9-1-1.
#4 Meat, Gravies, or Stew with Perfringens
The bacteria called clostridium perfringens is often found in meats, stews, gravies, and sauces that are cooked and then kept warm for a long time before the food is served. The rule of thumb of keeping cold foods cold and hot foods hot, applies here. Serve foods immediately after they are cooked, or if you will be offering the food for an extended period, make sure the food is kept at a temperature above 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Symptoms of a C. perfingens bacterial infection include abdominal cramps, nausea, or vomiting. Although this is a short-lasting bacterial infection if you suspect it, seek medical treatment at your nearest walk in clinic to get relief from symptoms.
These are four not-so-common ways bacteria can invade our bodies causing distress. To prevent infections, wash raw produce, avoid unpasteurized beverages, inspect canned foods before eating, and keep cooked foods at recommended temperatures.