Food Safety

You’ve had that feeling when you’ve been out to eat at a new restaurant – that queasy, unsettled stomach. Mistakes in food preparation and improper storage in restaurants (and at home) result in over 76 million cases of food-borne illnesses each year.

About one-quarter of those require hospitalization and as many as 5,000 people die each year after eating contaminated food. These incidents can be prevented by taking simple precautions.  

  • Always wash your hands before preparing food. And, after handling poultry or meat BEFORE touching other foods.
  • Wash and disinfect all cutting boards and utensils after use.
  • Use paper towels, rather than cloth towels, in the kitchen to keep from spreading bacteria.
  • Never place cooked meat into the same pan that it marinated in. You will contaminate the food.
  • Use a meat thermometer to ensure that meat is cooked at the desired temperature.
  • Refrigerate leftover within 2 hours after eating.
  • Set the refrigerator temperature at 40 degrees and the freezer at zero.

Approximately 6 to 7 million people in the United States suffer from food allergies. The most common food “culprits” are: peanuts, eggs, milk, wheat and shellfish and sometimes can prove to be fatal – especially in children.

In the worst cases, anaphylaxis occurs when an ingredient in food triggers the reaction. For most, symptoms include a rash, shortness of breath or nausea. In others, a swollen throat, difficulty breathing, vomiting and low blood pressure may lead to unconsciousness. Call 9-1-1 or your locality’s emergency services immediately.

Reading food labels can help prevent reactions like these. Knowing what is in the food – before eating – can be a life saver. Also, be sure that your child’s teacher and school knows he or she is allergic to a certain food.

Food labels can also help you stick to a healthy diet by showing the nutritional facts.

Making wise food choices, preparing foods according to safety guidelines and being knowledgeable about nutrition will go a long way to keeping your family healthy.

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