Unfortunately, you can’t prevent food poisoning from ever happening, but these 10 food safety tips are the key to food poisoning prevention.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but, there’s a strong possibility you may be making some common food safety mistakes that could cause some serious issues for you and your family. Don’t worry, we’re friends, right? Well, friends help friends out, and you’re in luck because today I’m going to share with you 10 crazy easy ways to prevent food poisoning.
Let’s get real here. handling food safely is more important than tossing away clumpy old milk that’s hanging out in the back of your refrigerator, or making sure you washed your fruits and veggies properly.
Sure, both of those are really important, but there are a few things you’re overlooking, or it may have never crossed your mind. Unfortunately, some of these things can result in some major consequences.
Did you know there are over 48 million Americans who are stricken with food poisoning each year? 25% of those get food poisoning from the foods they eat in their own house.
Dang, that’s a lot! I don’t want you to be a statistic, because friends don’t let friends become a statistic.
Here are 10 ways you can prevent food poisoning.
1: Stop tasting your food while you’re cooking or preparing it.
Not only is double-dipping gross, but every time you taste something you’re cooking, you’re adding bacteria to the non-contaminated food.
TRUE STORY: Years ago before I got smart and got divorced, whenever we would have a family gathering at our house, my ex would love to make tuna salad. I hate the smell of fish so naturally, I wouldn’t go anywhere near it.
One day, I decided to watch him make it – which was a huge mistake.
Here he is, mixing his tuna and celery in a wooden bowl. In goes a dollop of mayonnaise. Now he mixes it. Now he tastes it, realizes it needs more mayonnaise and puts the spoon he put in his gross mouth into the mayonnaise jar, scooped out another 2 dollops and proceeded to mix it into the tuna.
Lord only knows where his nasty mouth was before he made the tuna. GROSS! Everyone who ate that tuna ate whatever bacteria was growing in his gingivitis ridden mouth.
Did you get a visual? I most certainly hope you did. It’s okay to taste your food while preparing it, but every time you dip, use another spoon!
2: Putting cooked or ready-to-eat foods back on the plate that held the raw meat.
Yes, I know, I sound like a broken record, but if you hear me say it enough, perhaps you’ll stop doing it.
Here’s the deal. Never let raw meat of any type (beef, poultry, fish, organs) touch cooked or ready-to-eat foods, as this is the number one way to cross-contaminate your food. The bacteria can transfer from your raw meat to your cooked meat in a manner of seconds. Always use separate plates and separate utensils.
Put on your thinking cap to the last time you barbecued some steak. When you took your steak off your plate with a fork, did you leave the fork sitting on the plate where the raw steak was? When your steak was cooked, did you put it back on that plate with that fork?
It’s okay, I’ll forgive you this time, but let’s not do it again!
3: Washing your meat or poultry.
I’m gonna start off by asking, why?
What’s the purpose of washing meat? There is none.
The only thing you’re doing when you’re hosing down your roast, turkey or chicken is making the bacteria run away from the water.
Where are those nasty little varmints going to run off to? That’s easy, your sink, your counter, your clothes, and if you really turn the water on hard enough, you may even get splashed in the eye with bacteria water.
It’s gross. Now stop doing it!
4: Thawing your meat on the counter.
I hate to break the news to you, but your mother was wrong.
When I was a young mother, I always put the ground beef out on the counter all day to defrost. After all, that’s what my mother did and heck, she’s supposed to be smart because after all, she’s my mom.
Well, my mom was wrong, and she’s still wrong. Leaving meat out on the counter to defrost is one of the worst things you can do. By letting your meat thaw on the counter, it’s allowing the bacteria to multiply faster than two bunnies.
I know it may take longer to defrost but thaw your meat in the refrigerator. You should totally read my earlier blog post The Best Way To Defrost Meat Without Being Sick Like A Dog.
5: Letting your food cool before putting it in the refrigerator.
This mistake is the one mistake that made me give my boys and myself the worse case of food poisoning ever. (Read how I gave my then-husband the worst case of food poisoning he ever had, and how you can prevent this from ever happening to your family).
There really is no purpose to leave food sitting out to cool before putting it in the refrigerator, aside from the fact your mother probably taught you to do so. As we’ve already learned…stop listening to her, because she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.
Sometimes bad advice travels quicker than a yeast infection.
If you leave food out to cool for more than two hours, or for an hour if it’s 90°F outside, the bacteria is going to grow at a super quick rate. Always, put your perishable foods in the refrigerator as quickly as you can.
6: Eating raw cookie dough, or licking the batter off a mixing blade.
You have no idea how I cringe every time I see someone doing this.
Yes, in the past I’ve been guilty of licking cake batter off the blade; the cookie dough, not so much.
Aside from the flour (which is just as bad as eggs, if not worse), what is the main ingredient you need when you’re baking? Yep, you guessed it; eggs.
Raw eggs can contain Salmonella or other types of harmful bacteria. If this isn’t bad enough, it has been scientifically noted, there are times where flour may contain E. coli.
As much as your kid wants to eat the raw cookie dough or lick the mixing blades; don’t let them. If I had to choose between them whining or being deathly ill, I’ll go for the whining.
To read more about raw dough and the misconceptions about egg-free raw cookie dough, you’ll want to read Scary But True: What’s In Egg-free Raw Cookie Dough That Will Make You Sick.
7: Marinating meat or seafood on the counter and using raw meat marinade on cooked food.
NEVER, EVER marinate meat, seafood or even poultry on the counter or use the same marinade for raw and cooked meat.
Like with everything I’ve told you, meat and the counter are not friends. Please put the marinated meat that’s been covered in the refrigerator. Also, DO NOT use the marinade that your meat was soaking in on top of the cooked meat.
If you’re going to do this, you may as well lick a raw piece of chicken.
8: Stop under-cooking your meat.
Sure, there was a time when medium rare was the way to go, but now that we’re a lot smarter, we’ve now come to realize that’s not safe for human consumption.
Always use a meat thermometer and cook your food until the internal temperature is in safety guidelines. Not sure how to tell? You’re in luck. You may want to read How To Use A Food Thermometer The Right Way, and How To Select The Best Food Thermometer. They’re both pretty awesome posts.
9: Not washing your hands.
I just don’t understand why one of the most important things we can do as human beings to keep infection away, is one of the things people struggle with the most.
Always wash your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds with soap and warm water. Really wash your hands, get that soap under your nails and between your fingers. Every time you touch a raw piece of meat or handle food, wash your hands.
10: Not replacing the sponges and dishrags.
Ironically, sponges and dishrags are some of the dirtiest tools in your kitchen. Sponges and dishrags can hold harmful foodborne bacteria that will cause severe risks to your health. I hate them and feel they should be tossed off the market. Read this for more information. Why sponges are horrible and need to be burned.
Always sanitize your sponges (or don’t even use them, get a scrubber and toss that bad boy in the dishwasher every time you run it).
When it comes to dishrags, don’t wipe your nasty hands on the towels. Their main job is to dry your hands after washing them – but I vote you use paper towels instead.
Do yourself a favor, get rid of all the sponges and dishrags.
So, how many of these mistakes have you been making, and how many will you be stopping? Please let me know in the comments because I’d really love to know. Don’t worry, no one’s gonna judge you.
Until we meet again.
Sources: Food Safety