Last Updated on October 4, 2022 by Lauren Beck
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are 600 million cases of foodborne diseases each year. These foodborne illnesses often lead to sickness or deaths in the worst cases among very young children, the elderly, and those with very weak immune systems.
Foodborne diseases are usually caused by consuming contaminated beverages or food items that lead to infections caused by harmful microorganisms and parasites. Other disorders brought about by food contamination are caused by other foreign bodies like metals, chemicals, or harmful toxins.
These diseases can be acquired through the environment, contact with animals, or person-to-person spread. And although it may sound frightening and worrisome, food contamination is preventable.
With the help of technology, gadgets are now available to aid the detection of contaminants in food items. In fact, it’s said that foods inspected by a metal detector are generally safe to consume.
In order to avoid foodborne illnesses, here are five methods to keep in mind. Keep on reading to learn more.
1. Suds Up
The easiest way to prevent foodborne diseases through food contamination is to make hand washing a habit. This habit is one of the earliest skills taught in early child education.
The hands are one of the most used body parts; hence, it’s easy to transmit germs and bacteria from doing normal everyday things like leaning on dirty windows, handling money, or petting a dog.
It’s important to remember that water alone isn’t enough to clean the hands from ungodly numbers of foreign microbes. Using soap and scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds is necessary for proper hand washing. Frequent proper hand washing and cleaning is essential, especially if you’re handling food in a food processing plant and others.
2. Clean Workstations And Cutting Boards
Aside from proper hand washing and preventing meat juices from dripping onto other food, another way to avoid food contamination is by making sure the countertops and cutting boards are clean. This is essential when cutting raw food like seafood, poultry, or meats which can contain harmful bacteria.
Frequent wiping and washing with hot, soapy water are the best ways to sanitize these cutting boards and countertops to avoid contamination that can lead to nasty foodborne diseases or food poisoning.
3. Watch The Juice
Another habit one must acquire when handling food is to be cautious with raw food items like poultry, meats, and marinades. Juice from raw meats or marinades can drip on vegetables, fruits, or others that don’t need further cooking. This is a disaster waiting to happen.
Although there are agencies that ensure the safety of the food supply available in the market, it’s still important to look into ways one can avoid any food contamination scenario. Hence, once food from the market is brought home or in the restaurant, it’s best to separate raw meats from other food items when putting them inside the refrigerator or when using other storage containers.
When storing raw meats inside the fridge, keep the uncooked meats inside a plastic container or bag, then use the lowest drawer to ensure the juice won’t splash or drip on other foods.
Marinades, on the other hand, should be done inside the refrigerator and not on the counter. Ensure that the container used when marinating poultry, seafood, or raw meat is properly closed before refrigerating. Discarding the marinating juice or boiling it first before using it on cooked food is also essential when preventing food contamination.
4. Keep An Eye On Your Refrigerator
The refrigerator is an invention that’s proven to be very useful in prolonging the shelf life of food. It becomes problematic, however, when the fridge isn’t well maintained, and the temperature inside goes higher than 41°F (5°C).
It may not be that obvious but keeping the temperature consistently cold helps stop the multiplication of germs and bacteria and keeps food from spoiling easily.
Ensuring the correct temperature is maintained can be done by avoiding overfilling the fridge and making sure there’s enough air to circulate inside. Another is by ensuring that the fridge doors are always properly closed to keep the internal temperature cool.
5. Cook Food Thoroughly
Lastly, it’s recommended that you cook your food thoroughly to avoid food-related illnesses. As mentioned previously, raw food, especially poultry, seafood, and meats, contain many harmful microorganisms. If the fridge’s cold temperature pauses the multiplication of germs and bacteria, heat, on the other hand, kills them off.
Food contamination that leads to food poisoning or foodborne illnesses can be prevented by consciously incorporating preventative actions when handling food. Steps mentioned above such as proper handwashing, separating and processing raw food from cooked or ready-to-eat food, and the like are key.