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Food poisoning prevention

This article explains safe ways to prepare and store food to prevent food poisoning. It includes tips about what foods to avoid, eating out, and traveling.

TIPS FOR COOKING OR PREPARING FOOD:

  • Carefully wash your hands before preparing or serving food.
  • Cook eggs until they are solid, not runny.
  • DO NOT eat raw ground beef, chicken, eggs, or fish.
  • Heat all casseroles to 165°F (73.9°C).
  • Hotdogs and luncheon meats should be heated to steaming.
  • If you take care of young children, wash your hands often and dispose of diapers carefully so bacteria do not spread to food surfaces where food is prepared.
  • Use only clean dishes and utensils.
  • Use a thermometer when cooking beef to at least 160°F (71.1°C), poultry to at least 180°F (82.2°C), or fish to at least 140°F(60°C).

TIPS FOR STORING FOOD:

  • DO NOT use foods that have an unusual odor or spoiled taste.
  • DO NOT place cooked meat or fish back onto the same plate or container that held the raw meat, unless the container has been thoroughly washed.
  • DO NOT use outdated foods, packaged foods with broken seals, or cans that are bulging or dented.
  • If you can your own foods at home, be sure to follow proper canning techniques to prevent botulism.
  • Keep the refrigerator set to 40°F (4.4°C) and your freezer at or below 0°F (-17.7°C).
  • Promptly refrigerate any food you will not be eating.

MORE TIPS FOR PREVENTING FOOD POISONING:

  • All milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy products should have the word "Pasteurized" on the container.
  • DO NOT eat foods that may contain raw eggs (such as Caesar salad dressing, raw cookie dough, eggnog, and hollandaise sauce).
  • DO NOT eat raw honey, only honey that has been heat treated.
  • NEVER give honey to children under 1 year of age.
  • DO NOT eat soft cheeses (such as queso blanco fresco).
  • DO NOT eat raw vegetable sprouts (such as alfalfa).
  • DO NOT eat shellfish that has been exposed to red tide.
  • Wash all raw fruits, vegetables, and herbs with cold running water.

TIPS FOR EATING OUT SAFELY:

  • Ask if all fruit juices have been pasteurized.
  • Be careful at salad bars, buffets, sidewalk vendors, potluck meals, and delicatessens. Make sure cold foods are kept cold and hot foods are kept hot.
  • Use only salad dressings, sauces, and salsas that come in single-serving packages.

TIPS FOR TRAVELING WHERE CONTAMINATION IS COMMON:

  • DO NOT eat raw vegetables or unpeeled fruit.
  • DO NOT add ice to your drinks unless you know it was made with clean or boiled water.
  • Drink only boiled water.
  • Eat only hot, freshly cooked food.

If you become sick after eating, and other people you know may have eaten the same food, let them know you got sick. If you think the food was contaminated when you bought it from a store or restaurant, tell the store or restaurant and your local health department.

For more detailed information please see Food - hygiene and sanitation or the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service website -- www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/home.

References

DuPont HL. Approach to the patient with suspected enteric infection. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 283.

Haines CF, Sears CL. Infectious enteritis and proctocolitis. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 110.

Semrad CE. Approach to the patient with diarrhea and malabsorption. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 140.

  • Food poisoning

    Animation

  •  

    Food poisoning - Animation

    If you have stomach cramps, diarrhea, fever, or nausea a few hours after eating something, chances are you may have food poisoning. Let's talk about food poisoning. Food poisoning happens when you eat food or drink water that's been contaminated with bacteria, parasites, viruses, or toxins. Most cases of food poisoning are due to common bacteria, such as Staphylococcus or E. coli. Bacteria may get into your food in different ways. Meat or poultry may come into contact with intestinal bacteria when it gets processed. Water that's used during growing or shipping may contain animal or human waste. Food poisoning may also occur when people handle your food without washing their hands properly, when food is prepared using unclean cooking utensils or cutting boards, when perishable foods are left out of the refrigerator for too long, and when people eat raw foods like fish or oysters or undercooked meats or eggs. Untreated water can also cause food poisoning. So, what do you do about food poisoning? Well, fortunately, you'll usually recover from the most common types of food poisoning within 12 to 48 hours. Your goal should be to make sure that your body gets enough fluids so that you don't become dehydrated. Don't eat solid foods until diarrhea has passed, and avoid dairy products. Drink any fluid (except milk and caffeinated beverages) to replace fluids in your body. If you have eaten toxins from mushrooms or shellfish, seek medical attention right away. The emergency room doctor will then empty out your stomach and remove the toxin. Most people will recover from the most common types of food poisoning pretty quickly. However, if food poisoning leads to dehydration because you can't keep anything down, you should seek immediate medical attention.

  • Food poisoning

    Animation

  •  

    Food poisoning - Animation

    If you have stomach cramps, diarrhea, fever, or nausea a few hours after eating something, chances are you may have food poisoning. Let's talk about food poisoning. Food poisoning happens when you eat food or drink water that's been contaminated with bacteria, parasites, viruses, or toxins. Most cases of food poisoning are due to common bacteria, such as Staphylococcus or E. coli. Bacteria may get into your food in different ways. Meat or poultry may come into contact with intestinal bacteria when it gets processed. Water that's used during growing or shipping may contain animal or human waste. Food poisoning may also occur when people handle your food without washing their hands properly, when food is prepared using unclean cooking utensils or cutting boards, when perishable foods are left out of the refrigerator for too long, and when people eat raw foods like fish or oysters or undercooked meats or eggs. Untreated water can also cause food poisoning. So, what do you do about food poisoning? Well, fortunately, you'll usually recover from the most common types of food poisoning within 12 to 48 hours. Your goal should be to make sure that your body gets enough fluids so that you don't become dehydrated. Don't eat solid foods until diarrhea has passed, and avoid dairy products. Drink any fluid (except milk and caffeinated beverages) to replace fluids in your body. If you have eaten toxins from mushrooms or shellfish, seek medical attention right away. The emergency room doctor will then empty out your stomach and remove the toxin. Most people will recover from the most common types of food poisoning pretty quickly. However, if food poisoning leads to dehydration because you can't keep anything down, you should seek immediate medical attention.

    A Closer Look

     

    Self Care

     
     

    Review Date: 2/24/2018

    Reviewed By: Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

    The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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