Elaborate cooking are a great way to entertain family and friends during celebrations. There’s nothing quite like the taste of freshly grilled food. However, preparing and cooking extensively presents some food safety challenges. Every year, over 628,000 people are hospitalized with food poisoning, and 133,000 die. Everyone needs to take food safety seriously.
Follow these tips to keep your family and friends safe and well:
Wash your hands regularly
Always wash your hands thoroughly using soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after you handle food. This is particularly important if you’ve touched raw meat, eggs, and poultry. If you don’t have access to clean running water, take along some large water containers and moist towelettes for cleaning your hands.
Always keep cooked and raw food separate
Use separate plates, utensils, storage containers, and chopping boards for raw and cooked foods to avoid cross-contamination.
Check that the food is thoroughly cooked before serving
The only way to be certain that you’ve killed harmful bacteria in food is to check its temperature with a thermometer. Poultry should be cooked to 165°F, ground meats and hamburgers to 160°F, and other raw meats and fish to 145°F. After cooking, allow the meat to rest for three minutes before eating it. Make sure hamburgers are brown in the middle, not pink.
Keep meat cold until you want to grill it
Transfer raw meat directly from a refrigerator or a cooler to the BBQ or grill. Do not let it sit around. If you want to marinade meat, do it in the fridge. Never reuse marinade.
Keep food cool
Perishable foods, such as potato salad, need to be kept in a cooler under a few inches of ice or several ice packs. Keep drinks in a separate cooler to minimize the number of times cooler lids are open and shut. Keep coolers in an air-conditioned car or in a shady spot. Don’t use a cooler to cool your food; it should be cold before you pack it.
Be careful with leftovers
If the temperature is at or below 90°F, don’t let food sit outside for more than two hours. If the temperature is over 90°F, leave it out for no longer than an hour. Place leftovers in the fridge or a cooler. If you’ve lost track of how long your food has been outside, don’t take any chances; throw it away. When reheating cooked meats, grill them to 165°F.
If you’ve recently been ill, don’t prepare food for other people
Wait at least 48 hours if you’ve had vomiting or diarrhea before cooking or handling food for anyone other than yourself.
What To Do If You Get Food Poisoning
As long as you take precautions when preparing and cooking food, it’s unlikely you’ll get food poisoning. However, it’s a good idea to know the symptoms. People with food poisoning tend to feel sick, vomit, have diarrhea, experience stomach cramps, and feel generally unwell. Some also develop a fever.
These symptoms don’t show up immediately; it can take anything from a few hours to several weeks before you get sick. In most cases, you can treat yourself at home, and the symptoms will pass within a week. Drink plenty of water, eat small quantities of bland food, and rest. If you don’t start to feel better within a few days or are having severe symptoms, call your doctor; you might need antibiotics or re hydration treatment.