We all love food—whether it be pasta, seafood, burgers, chicken, or burritos, food is not only needed but loved. But what about when we feel we’ve been betrayed by that great love? That’s right, I’m talking about food poisoning. Many of us have at least experienced it once, maybe even more, and even just once is enough to make one wary of food at times. Food safety should be your priority whether you’re cooking at home or eating out!
Foodborne viruses, bacteria, and microbes (pathogens) cause 1 in 6 Americans to suffer food poisoning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “… 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases each year in the United States.” Because foods are often mixed as ingredients to make a meal, it’s difficult to pinpoint a single culprit as to which specific ingredient is causing illnesses.
Here is a list of symptoms if you think you’ve encountered food poisoning:
- Abdominal pain and cramps
- Watery or bloody diarrhea
You will most likely experience these signs within hours of consuming the contaminated food, but they may occur days or even weeks later.
If you begin to suffer any of the following symptoms, please seek immediate medical attention:
- Bloody vomit or defecation
- Diarrhea for more than three days
- Frequent vomiting
- Extreme pain or abdominal cramping
- An oral temperature higher than 100.4˚ F
- Blurry vision, muscle weakness and/or tingling in your arms
Cooking at Home
If you’re cooking at home, here are a few suggestions that you should always keep in mind regarding food safety:
- Ensure that poultry is cooked all the way! The safe internal temperature for cooked chicken is 165˚ F. If the chicken is not cooked to this temperature, bacteria can thrive if not killed off by the heat. It would be a good idea to keep a meat or instant-read thermometer in your kitchen.
- Make sure to wash your hands and kitchen surfaces thoroughly and regularly—especially after handling raw meats. Always make sure to wash your fresh fruits and vegetables under running water.
- Don’t leave meals out too long! Bacteria can thrive in what nutritionists and chefs call the “danger zone” which is 40-140˚ F. Never leave food out of refrigeration for more than 2 hours.
- Avoid cross-contamination. Raw meat, eggs, seafood, and poultry can spread bacteria and germs to other foods if not kept separately. These foods should also be kept separate while in your refrigerator, grocery cart, and grocery bags!
If you’re going out to a place to eat and would like to know if the restaurant you’re going to practices food safety and has a clean track record with the health inspector, this website records all of that information. It will let you know their current rating, past ratings, and reasons for docked points during inspection.