Food and drink intake fundamentally maintains and nurtures your body. However, it is also the most dominant cause of illnesses.
This may sound like a paradox at first. But think about it: your body absorbs not only the nutrients but also the poisonous substances (if there are any) in your food.
Foodborne illness is also colloquially known as food poisoning. This term includes every illness resulting from consuming spoiled, contaminated, poisoned food or drink.
In other cases, food containing toxic preservatives and additives, or natural toxins (such as poisonous mushroom, potato sprouts, etc.) may also lead to foodborne diseases.
Warm weather in summer and humidity in spring are the best conditions for the growth of bacteria, leading to food spoilage if not properly preserved.
The symptoms of foodborne illnesses are quite obvious. They may happen after consuming contaminated food a few minutes, a few hours or maybe even after a day.
Food poisoning patients often suffer from nausea and vomit. In serious cases, they may even vomit blood. Diarrhea is also a common symptom, often watery diarrhea, which then can turn into bloody diarrhea.
In certain cases, patients may run a high fever at above 38°C (or 100°F).
To prevent yourself and your family from these common yet dangerous foodborne illnesses, check out the five handy rules below.
1. It starts with choosing your ingredients
Careful selection while shopping for your groceries is the first step that helps you avoid the risk of foodborne diseases. Fresh foods are always the best choice. Besides, you should be selective about your food suppliers, and restrict the use of unidentified products.
The second rule is to always check the expiration date when buying packaged foods. This is especially the case with products such as milk, meat and poultry, which are highly perishable, so make sure you consume them within a very few days. Furthermore, never buy food contained in bulging or broken cans and boxes because it is a sign of infection.
In addition, avoid most types of sprouted vegetables, especially potatoes, garlic and onions. Generally, you should not eat or cook any kind of outdated foods or decaying vegetables as they are risky to your health.
2. Food storage requires your carefulness
We all have that habit of going to the supermarket only once a week, buying tons of food in bundles and then putting them all in the fridge for later use. This routine saves us a lot of time.
However, you should really pay attention to the process of food storage. You’d better pack your food carefully in food-grade containers before putting it in the fridge. This helps preserve your food fresh longer, and also prevents odor.
Some foods can be processed or cooked before being put in the fridge to prevent prompt spoilage. Make sure you separate raw foods and cooked foods while keeping them.
In terms of highly perishable foods including meat, fish, poultry and dairy products, you must preserve cold or frozen foods as soon as you return home. Cold storage temperature should be under 39°F(or 4°C), and freezing temperature should be under 0°F (or -18°C).
You also should not overload your refrigerator because it may result in reduced storage space and diminished refrigeration effectiveness. Additionally, you should regularly check your food containers to avoid leakage. Any signs showing spoilage, such as change in color, shape or texture and bad odor, should be noticed. In such cases, do not consume these foods and get rid of them right away to avoid spoiling other foods stored in your refrigerator.
3. Cleanliness should be the first principle in your kitchen
Keeping a fresh and clean environment in your kitchen is a sustainable solution to preventing foodborne diseases and protect your health. The first thing you want to do is to keep all your kitchenware including dishes, bowls, cups, pots and pans, etc., all cleaned and dried for storage. Food waste should be placed in containers covered with lids.
You should also find a safe way to get rid of insects or mice regularly if there are any. Create a list of hygiene instructions and make sure every member of your family follows it strictly.
Finally, remember to keep your sink and water faucet clean. We are very likely to forget the water faucet when doing kitchen clean up. Unfortunately, your faucet is dirty, no matter how clean your hands are after washing. Germs will transfer from it to your hands and then to your food, leading to foodborne diseases afterward.
You can consider investing in touchless faucets. They are designed with the latest sensory technology in order to restrict unhygienic practices in cooking and washing. You should check out more touchless kitchen faucet reviews elsewhere to see how they could actually make your cooking process much more convenient.
4. Washing your hands is not enough
Doctors claim that the habit of washing your hands with soap before every meal and after using the toilet can save more lives than any antibiotic. Hand washing can halve the risk of diarrhea and other foodborne diseases. Do not rush, though. You are advised to wash your hands for at least 30 seconds.
However, washing only your hands is not enough. Another important practice is body hygiene. You should wear clean clothes, keep your hair and nails clean and tidy. If you are having a fever with coughing and sneezing, or any respiratory or infectious diseases, you may be better off having someone else cook for you instead.
5. Not only food, but it is also about water
Last but not least, do not forget that water is one of the most essential ‘ingredients’ in your meal. Using clean water is really important in preventing foodborne illnesses. Clean water must be pure water with no smell or strange taste. You should avoid drinking unboiled or unsterilized water or using it to make ice and ice cream.
Drinking water should be kept in a container that is food-grade, hygienic and unleaked. You may want to store your water in the refrigerator for so that you can have an enjoyable cold drink at any time. And importantly, remember not to pour boiling or hot water into plastic or spongy containers.