A few years ago, I traveled to my home state, Tennessee to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with my parents, brother, nieces and nephews.
It was your typical Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings. Everyone enjoyed the dinner, but the next day, everyone, was sick, and I suspect it was a case of food poisoning.
The only people who did not get sick were my baby niece, my husband and myself.
I cannot tell you what went wrong, but I can tell you what you should do to insure that nothing like this ever happens to you. There is nothing worse than seeing children sick and not being able to do anything to help them.
Keep the food poisoning bugs at bay by following these simple food safety practices.
1. Wash your hands. Wash your hands with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds. Make sure you wash your hands after handling uncooked meats. Do not ever forget to wash your hands after using the restroom.
2. Do not cross contaminate your foods. If you are preparing vegetables, then make sure that is all you are doing. Never prepare raw meat on a cutting board and then follow with vegetable preparation. The juices from raw meats contain bacteria that can make you sick. Always use a separate cutting board or make sure you wash, rinse and sanitize the cutting board between uses.
3. Food storage. Always store meat products on the bottom shelf in your refrigerator. Never store meat products above produce. Because juices from the raw meat products could possibly drip onto produce which is source of cross contamination.
4. Keep foods at the proper temperature. Always keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Hold cold foods at 41 degrees F or less and hot foods at 140 degrees F or more. You can purchase a food thermometer at a local Wal-Mart.
5. Cook potentially hazardous foods at the right temperature. Potentially hazardous foods are those foods that have the potential of causing a food borne illness. And those foods are eggs, dairy, chicken, fish, poultry, pork, and beef. You can usually find the temperature at which these foods should be cooked on the label.
6. Do not cross contaminate utensils. If you use a knife to cut up raw meat, do not use the same knife to cut up fresh vegetables for a salad. This is a food-borne illness waiting to happen.
7. Have left overs one to two times. Leftovers are fine, but do not have them repeatedly and do not heat the whole container of left overs (unless it is for the whole family), just take out what you need. When in doubt about a certain food, just throw it out.
These are some ways you can insure that your family will not have a food-borne illness. Children and the elderly are the most susceptible to food-borne illnesses because their immune systems are not as strong.
Be safe and be sure you maintain good food safety practices. Always take care!
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