Food poisoning happens when food that is contaminated by bacteria or a virus is eaten. Although food poisoning is always unpleasant, it is usually over quickly and has few complications. However, children can become seriously ill as a result of food poisoning due to their immaturity of their immune system and their ability to become quickly dehydrated.
The best way to avoid cross-contamination of food, is to always thoroughly wash your hands before preparing food, after you have handled raw foods (such as meat), after you’ve gone to the toilet, or handled your pet.
- Always use running water and soap.
- Count to fifteen as you wash your hands (make sure that you wash between each finger and the back of your hands).
- Count to fifteen as you rinse hands.
- Thoroughly dry your hands.
How to prevent bacteria growth on food:
- Always check the use-by dates on food before you buy it, before you open it, and before you eat it.
- Check all packaging – avoid eating anything that has packaging that is punctured, bulging, rusted, or not sealed in the manner in which it should be.
- Purge your cupboards and fridge of out-of-date food on a regular basis.
- Store all perishable food in a fridge that can maintain a temperature of less that 5° C.
- Perishable foods should be eaten when they are fresh – throw out anything suspect.
- Transfer refrigerated items from your shopping bag to the fridge as quickly as possible to maintain their temperature.
- Always cook food thoroughly and serve hot – warm temperatures can allow bacteria to grow and flourish.
How to reheat and freeze food safely:
- Frozen food should be thawed in the fridge or in the microwave – don’t leave it to stand at room temperature.
- Thawed food should never be refrozen – even after they’ve been cooked.
- Place leftovers into the fridge or freezer for storage even if they are still hot. Most modern refrigerators can deal with this temperature change, and this will ensure that the food cools quickly, lessening the likelihood of bacteria growth.
- Date any food that is to be frozen. While freezing will keep food safe for many, many months, the flavour and texture can be altered b extended storage.
- Only ever reheat food once – and it should be reheated quickly and thoroughly so that all the food is hot.
- Eat leftovers within 1-2 days of cooking.
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Last revised: Thursday, 19 June 2008
This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.
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