Could the Foods You Prepare at Home Be Making You Sick?
Before you whip up your next meal, make sure you’re practicing safe food handling. Some of the most commonly prepared foods can cause foodborne illness, according to new research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Specifically, contaminated salad greens made the most Americans sick, while contaminated poultry resulted in the most deaths.
“While this study found produce accounted for nearly half of food poisoning illnesses, people should still eat plenty of fruits and vegetables,” says Rachel Begun, MS, registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Consuming fruits and veggies is associated with reduced risk of many chronic diseases, including heart attack, stroke, and certain types of cancer,” she explains. “When properly cleaned, cooked, and handled, fruits and vegetables provide key nutrients for a healthy diet.”
For your safety—and peace of mind—the Home Food Safety program (a collaboration between Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and ConAgra Foods) released easy tips on safe food handling on HomeFoodSafety.org. Follow this trusted advice to reduce the risk of food poisoning:
- Wash all fresh fruits and vegetables, (peel or no peel) with cool tap water just before eating
- Dry produce with a clean cloth or paper towel to reduce any remaining bacteria
- Don’t cut fruits and vegetables on cutting boards used for raw meats and fish
- Buy meat with the “Safe Food Handling” label on the package
- When buying meat, have it bagged separately from other groceries to prevent cross-contamination
- Never defrost meat on the counter, defrost in the refrigerator or microwave
- Do not refreeze thawed meat
- Wash hands thoroughly for 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat
- Cooked meats should be eaten or frozen with three to four days
For more tips, downloadable guides, and free smartphone apps, visit HomeFoodSafety.org.
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