Enough bacteria and flu germs are going around during the winter season that you don’t want to bring any more bacteria into your kitchen. There are an estimated 11 million cases of food-borne illnesses in Canada each year. When food becomes contaminated by pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses or parasites, it can make the consumer sick and cause such symptoms as diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Some of the most common pathogens include E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella. Fortunately, most of the food poisoning cases in Canada can be avoided by safely handling, cleaning, cooking and storing food.
Don’t let your food make you sick – follow these guidelines to reduce your chance of contracting food-borne illnesses and diseases.
- Pay attention to packaging and expiry dates. Don’t buy anything with damaged or broken packaging and don’t eat anything that’s expiration date has passed.
- Always wash your hands with soap and water before and after cooking, as well as immediately after handling fish, meat or poultry.
- Keep food – especially poultry – separate from all produce while preparing meals. Don’t even use the same knife or cutting board.
- Thoroughly wash all produce – even if it comes pre-washed. You never know how well it was washed or what it came into contact with before reaching your home.
- Ensure all meats are thoroughly cooked before serving. If you’re unsure, cut into one piece near the middle to check that it’s done.
- Wash your kitchen counters with a neutral disinfectant after every meal to get rid of any bacteria left over from cooking.
- Regularly wash and change dishcloths. The moist environment acts as a breeding ground for germs.