Prevention - Proper Food Storage and Preparation
Part of learning how to prevent food poisoning involves using proper techniques to store and prepare food. If you enjoy fruits and vegetables, learning how to store them can keep your strawberries from doing you in. Basically, if you keep your fruit/vegetable crisper between 30 and 40 degrees, you’ll be fine. The exceptions would be tomatoes, apples, and bananas, which will last the longest at room temperature. If you buy ripe fruit, though, you’ll want to eat it within a few days. Using an airtight package can work, but even the most expensive storage containers won’t keep your fruit past a week or two.
When you’re ready to prepare your produce, wash it carefully – even if you’re taking the peel off. Slice away any bruised sections. Dry the fruit with a clean towel.
To store poultry, seafood, meat, eggs and dairy, the refrigerator is a must. Keep all of these products between 34 and 38 degrees. If you thaw fish out, eat it within 48 hours. You can keep fish frozen for up to six months (four months for ground meat, up to a year for whole cuts or poultry). Milk is reliable up until its “Sell By” date in most cases, and sometimes even a bit later, but it’s not worth gambling with the “smell test.” If you’ve had it more than a week and a half, chances are it’s time to get rid of it.
For preparation of meat, poultry or fish, use a clean knife each time – don’t keep a knife out after you’ve cut one product and use it again the next day – wash it with soap and hot water. Keep your cutting boards clean, and don’t use a wooden cutting board for these items – bacteria can lodge in the pores of the wood and rejoin your next cut of beef.
Prevention - Cleanliness
When it comes to learning how to prevent food poisoning, keeping a clean kitchen is another key element. Every time you use a cutting board or knife, clean it with hot water and antibacterial dish soap before using it again – definitely between meals, and sometimes between different foods in the same meal. If you use a knife to cut chicken breasts into tender-sized strips, you’ll want to clean it before using it to cut up a cantaloupe for the same meal.
Treatment - Natural Remedies
Food poisoning treatment can take a variety of forms, including natural remedies. If your primary symptoms are vomiting and diarrhea, the body is eliminating the toxins, and all you may need to do is help the toxins get out – and avoid dehydration. Drink sports beverages (PowerAde, Gatorade) or Pedialyte and water in small amounts. Popsicles are good if your stomach can handle them.
Then, start the “BRAT” diet – it works for kids with stomach viruses too, hence the name. Bananas, rice, applesauce and toast are all gentle on your stomach. Foods with a lot of grease or fiber will wreak havoc on your digestive system.
Treatment - Other Remedies
Additional remedies that will help with food poisoning treatment. Activated charcoal and carob are two substances that will help – the charcoal will pull the toxins through with it, and the carob will help with any discomfort.
If you find yourself with a spiking fever, or you begin to show symptoms of dehydration (failure to perspire when you feel hot, extremely pale skin, dizziness, or other signs of shock), seek medical attention immediately.
Safe Handling of Raw Produce and Fresh Squeezed Fruits and Vegetables. USDA, November 2005.
This post is part of the series: Food Poisoning - Causes, Symptoms, Prevention & Treatment
In this Food Safety article series, you’ll learn the causes and symptoms of food poisoning, as well as tips on preventing and treating food poisoning.