Published on Jun 03, 2011 by Edgar Snyder

Remember to Follow These Tips to Avoid Food Poisoning

E. coli outbreak

Maybe you have seen the recent news stories about the E. coli outbreak happening in Europe. This particular strain of E. coli is especially serious, because it is resistant to antibiotics and other medical treatments. So far 17 people have died, and more than 1,500 have gotten sick from the still unknown source of contamination.

While only two cases have surfaced in the U.S. and experts believe a widespread outbreak wouldn't happen here, I thought it was a good time to remind everyone about food safety. It's the time of the year when people have picnics and enjoy the heat, but that means it's also the time to make sure you handle, cook, and store your food correctly.

Here are some easy tips you can follow to help prevent food poisoning and keep your family healthy:

  • When you are grocery shopping, buy food with expiration dates that are as far in the future as possible.
  • Do not buy fruits like cantaloupe, peaches, plums, and nectarines if you cannot smell them. They were probably picked too early and may never ripen.
  • Wash your hands in hot, soapy water before and after preparing food and using the restroom.
  • Use separate cutting boards and knives for different foods, especially for meats, poultry, and seafood.
  • Wash utensils and cutting boards thoroughly after they come in contact with raw meat. Never reuse them.
  • If a food item does not have an expiration date or does not visibly spoil, label it with masking tape so you know how old it is.
  • Always thoroughly cook and prepare your food. Foods can look, taste, and fine – even if it's contaminated with bacteria like E. coli.
  • >If the mold on a food item is black, throw it out. Experts say that if mold is blue, green, or white, you can cut out the mold to about an inch away from the affected area.
  • Don't let food that should be refrigerated sit out, especially in warm weather.

Remember, if you aren't sure whether a food item has been contaminated or stored correctly, it's always better to err on the side of caution. If you get sick after eating something and suspect food poisoning, try to preserve as much evidence as possible. And seek medical attention immediately.

You can find more information on food safety and food poisoning on my website, including information on storing frozen and refrigerated foods and what to do if you think you got sick from tainted food.

Source: “E. Coli Outbreak Baffles Experts, Reches U.S.” ABCNews.com. June 2, 2011.

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