How to Avoid Food Poisoning
Although many people worry about food poisoning, there are ways in which you can easily prevent it. As a matter of fact, common sense is going to be your guide with many tips, for those who want to know how to avoid food poisoning when preparing foods at home. These are a few tips to ensure cleanliness, and to avoid cross contamination, which is a leading cause in food poisoning.
Wash your hands:
Yes, it is as simple as washing your hands. Especially when grilling, or cooking with raw meats regularly, you don't want to touch raw poultry, and then handle raw beef.
It not only contaminates the meat, it is also a simple way for you to get food poisoning. You simply touch your mouth/face with raw meats on your hands, and you are likely going to get sick.
Workstations should be kept separately:
The best rule when dealing with different meat, vegetables, fruits, and ingredients in the kitchen is to have separate work areas for each.
So have a cutting board for poultry, one for fish, one for raw meat, one for vegetables, and other ingredients. Not only does this prevent contamination, it also helps you keep things organized in the kitchen.
Clean work areas frequently:
In addition to the above point, make sure you keep your work areas clear. After cutting anything on a cutting board (even fruits or vegetables) clean that board before you put something else on it (especially if the item is raw). Don't forget to clean your smoker and cast iron grill grates properly every time after grilling.
A soapy water mix with warm water is sufficient to kill off a majority of the bacteria. And when you are all done with preparing and cooking meals, there are many sprays and cleaning solutions you can use to clean cutting boards, to help further kill off bacteria.
Dish rags are a major area of concern:
You know that dish rag you use to wipe a dirty counter, and then you wipe off your cutting board? You aren't alone. And this is one of the biggest concerns when it comes to cleanliness, contamination, and yes, food poisoning.
So make sure you have separate dish towels, just as you have work stations and cutting boards for individual raw foods you are preparing. Dirty and damp cloths are a major area for bacteria to grow.
So allow them to fully dry prior to using them again, and when possible, make sure you clean them with soap solutions to ensure the cleanest areas possible when working in the kitchen.
Knives are a major area for bacterial growth:
You have separate cutting boards, so you should also have separate knives to work with in the kitchen. Depending on what you are preparing, you should have a knife which is dedicated to that food, or raw meat you are preparing.
And, it is not only the actual cutting you will be doing. Where you store your knives is typically one of the dirtiest areas. So rather than use a block to store knives (where it is dark and bacteria can grow), look for magnetic storage solutions (that you can keep on the wall).
Doing this not only helps to prevent bacterial growth, it is also going to allow your knives to breath when they are not in use.
So they are not prone to contamination, bacteria, and other forms of growth, all of which can lead to food poisoning if you aren't careful with the meal preparation you are doing in the kitchen.
Raw versus cooked:
Raw meats should not come anywhere near your prepared meats. When cooking or grilling, make sure you have two very distinct areas, and keep them as far away as possible from one another. Don't use the same dish you transferred raw meat from, to put prepared, fully cooked meat into when you are grilling.
Again, many people do this, and it simply is not safe. It is best to dirty a few extra dishes and have to clean up afterwards, as opposed to having to deal with the contamination and the many germs and bacteria which can cause food poisoning if you are not careful.
Cook it thoroughly:
Sure you might love raw steak, but it isn't healthy for you. Make sure you are preparing your meat to the appropriate temperature. And, it doesn't end with meat. You also have to be extremely careful with poultry as well as eggs.
The more you can cook them, to the suggested temperatures for consumption, the more bacteria you are going to kill prior to eating these foods.
So make sure they are prepared properly, and make sure you are fully cooking all meats, poultry, fish, and raw eggs (or dairy) before you do consume it, in an effort to help prevent the spread of germs, bacteria, and eliminate the potential for food poisoning.
Bottom shelf rule:
When storing raw meat in the fridge or your freezer, keep it in the bottom shelf. Yes, raw meat has blood, so it is likely to drip, especially as it is thawing. You don't want this to fall on other items in your fridge, so make sure you don't put it on the top or middle racks.
You will also want to place a cover under the raw meat, as this can help contain the dripping if it is thawing, from spreading all over the bottom shelf. You can't ever be too safe when it comes to preventing contamination and illness, so take the necessary steps to limit spread/contamination of blood.
Of course there is no way to eliminate the possibility of contamination 100%, especially if you are grilling and cooking frequently in the home. But, there are a number of steps you can take that are going to limit or eliminate the spread of germs, and the possibility of cross contamination when you are preparing these foods. You can't be too cautious when it comes to your health.
So for those who are looking for simple solutions on how to avoid food poisoning, these are a few simple and easy tips you can follow when you are preparing foods, and dealing with raw meat/poultry in the kitchen.