What You Need To Know About Food Poisoning & Food Safety
(CBS Charlotte) — Each year, around one in six Americans fall ill after eating contaminated food — and nearly 3,000 people die annually from food related illnesses.
Of those illnesses, most food poisoning cases are caused by Salmonella poisoning. Common causes of Salmonella poisoning can be due to eating raw or undercooked beef, poultry, or eggs — or consuming unpasteurized dairy products. Some vegetables can also be infected with Salmonella. Additionally, a food handler may contaminate food with Salmonella if they use the restroom without washing their hands prior to preparing food.
Food poisoning is a serious concern in the United States, and with close to 48 million people affected each year — food contamination is not an issue that should be ignored or taken lightly.
How To Protect Yourself From Food Poisoning
1. Food Selection
The first step you can take in protecting yourself from food poisoning is at the store. When selecting meats or poultry, always choose products that have long expiration dates. Products closer to their expiration date are more likely to make you sick. After selecting your meat or poultry, place the item in a plastic bag, and wash your hands or use antibacterial gel afterwards. Keep in mind, that expiration dates are merely an educated guess.There is no way for your local grocery store to predict the exact day that beef or poultry will expire. If the beef or poultry has an odor, or if it looks spoiled or discolored, do not purchase it.
2. Food Storage
Foods such as meats, poultry, and dairy products need to be stored towards the back of the refrigerator. Never store these items on the door of your refrigerator. Meats and poultry should be cooked within two days of being placed in your refrigerator, and should be eaten (after storing in the refrigerator) within three days after cooking.
Also, if you lose power for more than four hours, it is best to clean out your refrigerator afterwards and throw away all meats, eggs, fruits/vegetables, and diary products. Meats and poultry stored in the freezer should retain their temperature for close to two days after the initial power outage.
3. Food Preparation
When preparing uncooked meat, eggs, or poultry, wash all surfaces, cutting boards and utensils that the raw food has come in contact with. Additionally, wash your hands before, and immediately after handling raw foods. Cooking meats thoroughly goes a long way in the prevention of food born illnesses.
Symptoms of Food Poisoning
Depending on the type of food poisoning, symptoms can appear within one hour to 10 days after eating contaminated food. Common symptoms of food poisoning include, but are not limited to:
- Abdominal Cramps
- Nausea, with or without stomach pain and vomiting
- Dizziness and/or confusion
Food poisoning can be serious and can lead to other health issues. If you suspect that you are suffering from food poisoning, call your doctor immediately.
-Nichole Jaworski, CBS Charlotte