We’ve all been there: you’ve just finished enjoying a delicious meal and are ready to begin the next event planned for your night. You’ve been looking forward to this evening all week, but suddenly, you begin feeling like something isn’t right. Seemingly out of nowhere, you feel this overwhelming need to get to a bathroom as soon as humanly possible. Retching in severe abdominal pain and with tiny beads of sweat forming, you realize that the rest of your night is going to be spent within five feet of your toilet—because you’ve got food poisoning.
For how practiced we are at preparing food, it’s shocking how prevalent food poisoning still is. However, you may be surprised that some of your common cooking, cleaning and eating practices are leaving you more vulnerable to food poisoning than you’d like. So to help you feel great no matter what you make, here are three safety tips to help you avoid getting food poisoning when cooking at home.
Safety Starts at The Store
To ensure you won’t get food poisoning, you have to think beyond merely how you handle the food once you’re ready to prepare it. According to Health.com, making wise choices in the grocery store is the first step toward preventing food poisoning when cooking at home. Try getting your cold or frozen food items last to ensure they stay at the right temperature for as long as possible. Also, make sure to keep your raw meats bagged and away from the other food in your cart to avoid any cross contamination.
Choosing the Right Cutting Board
Once you’re ready to start preparing your food, safety now moves toward choosing the right tools to further avoid problems with cross contamination. FoodRepublic.com shares that when using cutting boards, it’s all about knowing which food items should be sliced and diced on which cutting boards. Plastic cutting boards should be used for raw meats and vegetables that have strong tastes or smells because these foods can seep into the wood grains of wooden cutting boards and be difficult to clean completely. To steer clear of cross contamination even more, you may want to cut meats on a completely different cutting board than you cut fruits and vegetables.
Defrost Foods Correctly
Although frozen foods are safe while still frozen, thawing them in order to cook with them can bring issues of contamination to the surface. For this reason, it’s important to know the safest ways to thaw foods. The USDA recommends either using the refrigerator, cold water, or the microwave to thaw foods. Methods such as leaving items on the counter at room temperature or thawing using hot water could open your foods up to bacteria that causes food poisoning. The key here is to not let the food get warmer than 40 degrees Fahrenheit in order to retain its safety.
Food poisoning can be a very bad end to a very good meal. So to help you avoid the pain and illness that can come from food poisoning, use the tips mentioned above to be a safer cook while at home.