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8 Tips to Prevent Food Poisoning
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there are about one million cases of food poisoning every year, much of from leftovers. This holiday season, be proactive and don’t get sick.
Clostridium perfringens (C. perfringens) is a bacteria that is found on raw meat and poultry, and is one of the most common causes of foodborne illness in the United States. It’s key to know that anyone can get food poisoning and that beef, poultry, gravies, and dairy-based dishes are common culprits.
To prevent food poisoning, take the following steps when preparing food:
- Carefully wash your hands often, and always before cooking or cleaning. Always wash them again after touching raw meat.
- Clean dishes and utensils that have had any contact with raw meat, poultry, fish, or eggs.
- Use a thermometer when cooking. Cook beef to at least 160°F, poultry to at least 165°F, and fish to at least 145°F.
- DO NOT place cooked meat or fish back onto the same plate or container that held the raw meat, unless the container has been completely washed.
- Refrigerate any perishable food or leftovers within 2 hours. Keep the refrigerator set to around 40°F and your freezer at or below 0°F. DO NOT eat meat, poultry, or fish that has been refrigerated uncooked for longer than 1 to 2 days.
- Cook frozen foods for the full time recommended on the package.
- DO NOT use outdated foods, packaged food with a broken seal, or cans that are bulging or have a dent.
- DO NOT use foods that have an unusual odor or a spoiled taste.
To prevent foodborne bacteria spores from growing in food after its been cooked,you want to be sure that all food is fullycooked to recommended temperatures, and then kept at a temperature that is either warmer than 140°F (60°C) or cooler than 41°F (5°C). These temperatures prevent the growth of spores that might have survived the initial cooking process.
Meat dishes should be served hot, right after cooking. Leftover foods should be refrigerated at 40°F or below as soon as possible and within 2 hours of preparation. So even if you think you are going for a third plate later, refrigerate the dish.
Leftovers should be reheated to at least 165°F (74°C) before serving, so pay attention to your oven and microwave gauges.