How To Stop Food Poisoning In Your Personal Kitchen

Published: 09th January 2009
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Most people have all done it - opened a container of leftovers or a half-used jar of spaghetti sauce, long forgotten in the back of the refrigerator, and reeled at the sight and smell of fuzzy mold. Food that is obviously spoiled gets pitched. But what about stuff that looks and smells okay even if it has been around awhile? Do you play it safe and pitch it? Or throw it into the microwave and take your chances?

The thing is that people cannot really rely on their eyes, nose or taste buds to tell whether or not a food is safe to eat.

Disease-causing microorganisms that creep into food can surely make you sick, sometimes for as long as several weeks. Food poisoning can be more serious for the very young, the very old, the pregnant, and people with illnesses like cancer and AIDS.

In fact, people can even die from a severe cause of food poisoning. So it pays to have a little extra information on your side. The trick is for you to know which food to get rid of before it can hurt you. With the right prevention tactics, you never need to second-guess your toss-or-keep policies.

To steer clear of food poisoning, which actually happens right in your kitchen, start by following six simple, germ-savvy rules:

1. Keep cold foods cold - 34° to 40°F or 1° to 4°C.

Attention to food safety is crucial anywhere specially if you are dealing with perishables. In a strictly controlled environment like the refrigerator, cold itself is a valuable factor in food safety. Accuracy of holding temperature helps slow bacterial growth.

2. Keep hot foods hot - 140° to 165°F or 60° to 74°C

Do not guess if your goose is cooked. Cook meats until the center reaches 165°F (74°C). The only way to tell is with a thermometer that goes all the way into the center of the bird or roast.

Maintaining hot foods hot reduces the chances of developing dangerous bacteria to breed. This guarantees a safer product that is good for your health.

3. Keep food storage and preparation areas clean - that includes shelves and counters as well as your refrigerator.

What you don't see can certainly hurt you. What seems clean does not necessarily mean it is safe. Stay on the safe side. Always maintain cleanliness and hygiene in your kitchen.

4. Before starting food preparation, wash your hands with hot soapy water for at least 20 seconds.

Your hands are the number one carrier of germs. Contamination with the food you prepare will increase the chances of developing diseases.

5. Refrigerate leftovers quickly.

When eating take-home foods, it is best to consume them within 48 hours. If you have leftovers, refrigerate it within two hours of the food being served, within an hour during the summer, then reheat it to 165°F (74°C) or higher within two days. For take-outs, put it in the refrigerator within one hour of leaving the restaurant.

Refrigeration is utilized for food preservation such as extending the shelf-life of foods, merchandise preservation/presentation and contributes to indoor environment.

6. When in doubt, throw it out.

The sneaky salmonella bacteria are probably the most common cause of food poisoning. Infected food usually tastes fine but you won't feel fine. Within 12 to 20 hours after eating, you may develop nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, headache, and sometimes fever.

Sounds easy enough? Think again. Even if it seems easy there are always murky areas such as food that is kept too long or raw foods that carry troublesome bacteria. Follow tips outlined here and you will prevent food-borne diseases from sneaking into your kitchen.

Jo is an author and publisher for 'Benchmark Interiors' (, a UK kitchen furniture firm that specializes in bespoke handmade kitchens, bedroom and home office furniture design and build. If you want an expert to assist you on your kitchen planning in order to keep the area safe and secure all the time or just would like to find out more about bespoke kitchens design then you should check out Benchmark Interiors.

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