Tips To Avoid Food Poisoning

If you've been noticing that there seem to be more and more cases of food poisoning every year, you're right! Microbes are showing up in foods they never used to inhabit. It's estimated that there are now more than 40 million food poisoning cases, resulting in 3,000 deaths per year. Fortunately, you can take steps to protect yourself and reduce your risk of contracting food poisoning. 

Tips for handling meat:

  • At the checkout counter, have the cashier put the meat or seafood in a separate bag so leaking juices don't contaminate other foods. At home, refrigerate them as soon as possible.

  • After touching raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs, wash your hands, utensils, platters and surfaces thoroughly with hot, soapy water.

  • Completely thaw frozen meat, poultry, and seafood in the refrigerator before cooking.

  • Marinate food in the refrigerator, not on the counter.

  • Check the internal temperature of meat and poultry with an oven-safe, meat thermometer.

  • To make sure your thermometer is accurate, put the tip at least two inches into a cup of crushed ice topped off with tap water. It should read 32°F after 30 seconds (be careful not to let it touch the side or bottom of the cup).

Tips for handling produce:

  • Before you cut cantaloupes or other melons, scrub the skins with water and a brush. (If you don't, cutting them could transfer pathogens from the rind to the flesh.)

  • It's better to wash berries and other non-scrubbable fruits and vegetables with fast-running water rather than soaking them. The friction of the running water helps remove bacteria.

  • Wash fruit even if you plan to peel it. If there are microbes on the peel, they can contaminate the rest of the fruit when you peel it.

  • Eat only cooked sprouts (including home-grown). Ask restaurants not to add raw sprouts to your sandwich or salad.

  • Do NOT wash bagged greens that say "pre-washed" on the label. (Rewashing bagged salad greens that were washed before being packaged is very unlikely to create a safer salad. The greater likelihood is that you'll make a safe product unsafe because of cross-contamination with bacteria from your fingers, cutting boards, countertops, or the sink.) Of course, if the bag doesn't say "washed," though, you do need to wash the greens thoroughly.

For more information, go to