Q: How can I prevent food poisoning?
A: There are many things you can do to prevent symptoms of gastroenteritis related to food poisoning with regard to purchasing, storing , preparing, cooking and serving your food:
- Do not buy already-cooked food that is stored next to raw food, even if it is stored on ice.
- Do not buy food in cans that are dented, cracked, or have a bulging lid.
- Make sure meat and poultry products are refrigerated when bought.
- Use plastic bags to keep juices from meat and fish from touching other foods.
- Store perishable items (that can go bad quickly) in the refrigerator within an hour of buying.
- Keep refrigerator temperature between 32 and 40°F and freezer temperature at or below 0°F.
- Freeze meat and poultry that will not be cooked within 48 hours.
- Freeze tuna, bluefish and mahi-mahi that will not be cooked within 24 hours; other fish can be stored in the refrigerator for 48 hours.
- Do not store eggs on the refrigerator door (since that is the warmest part of the refrigerator).
- Put leftovers in the refrigerator within 2 hours of cooking them.
- Divide leftovers into parts and store in small containers.
- Reheat leftovers to 165°F before eating.
- Wash hands with soap and water before cooking and after handling raw meat, poultry, fish, or raw eggs.
- Thaw frozen meats and fish in the refrigerator or microwave, not by leaving them out.
- Marinate foods in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.
- Avoid contact of cooked foods with forks, spoons, knives, plates, or areas that may not be clean.
- Wash forks, spoons, knives, plates, and cutting areas with soap and water after they have touched raw meat, poultry, fish or eggs.
- Avoid letting the juices from uncooked meat, poultry or fish touch cooked foods or foods that will be eaten raw.
- Carefully wash all fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid recipes that include raw eggs.
- Use a meat thermometer; cook beef and lamb to an internal temperature of 145°F, pork and ground beef to 160°F, and poultry to 170 to 180°F.
- Cook eggs until the yolk begins to harden.
- Boil juices from raw meat or fish before using on cooked food.
- Serve cooked foods on clean plates with clean forks, spoons, and knives.
- Keep hot foods at 140°F and cold foods below 40°F.
- Never leave foods at room temperature longer than 2 hours, or 1 hour if the room is hotter than 90°F.
- Use coolers and ice packs to take perishable foods (that may go bad) away from home.