When It Comes to Food Prep - Your Health is On the Line

in #blog3 years ago

In recent days and weeks, headlines have featured stories about tainted food from American manufacturing, food from China that could pose a serious health threat, and at least several times a year, you will hear reports of food recalls and restaurants cited for food poisoning. And it comes as no surprise that children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to food poisoning. This summer a five year old spent a month in the hospital with kidney failure due to E. coli contamination in shredded lettuce that was part of a fajita.


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I am always telling patients who present with "gastrointestinal upset" that one of the causes could be a breakdown in safe food preperation - more often in resturants than in home. We all know that at home safe food prep involves:

1- Raw meats, especially poultry, should be handled on a separate surface or cutting board that is immediately cleaned.
2- All salad greens, veggies should be thoroughly washed and scrubbed
3- Meats need to be cooked to a safe internal temperature
4- Creamy foods should not be left standing out for too long, especially in warm summer months
5- Leftovers should be dated
6- Frozen meats should be defrosted in the fridge
7- Moist sponges should be nuked in the microwave with regular frequency

These are just some of the many precautions we should be following so we don't get sick from food poisoning or contaminated prep.

When it comes to restaurant safety, here in California there is a posted grading system to let consumers know whether a restaurant has passed a recent inspection (an "A" is posted for all to see) or whether there were violations ("B," "C," or restaurant is temporarily closed). But on a day to day basis there is little control to oversee that workers are washing hands properly especially after using bathroom facilities or that food is being handled properly. Salad greens, tomatoes especially, seafood and ethnic foods all feature prominently in reports of tainted food.

What can you do? Well I mostly eat at favorite restaurants where I have become familiar with the quality and presentation of the food; If anything tastes even slightly funny - I send it back; I rarely order seafood outside my home; I choose "hot salads" - cooked or grilled veggies - as my appetizer. I also avoid salad bars and buffets where people serving themselves can also be sloppy and contaminate surfaces and food, and where climate control, if it's off, can allow pathogens to grow. If you suspect food poisoning because of severe gastrointestinal symptoms - get in touch with a doctor or get to an emergency room - especially if you are dealing with a child.

Have you had a food posioning incident? Do you selectively choose the places where you dine out? Do you feel you are pretty good with home safety in the kitchen? Let us know!!

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