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   Your Stories > Stories of interest > 13 Essential Steps t
13 Essential Steps to Avoid Food Poisoning

Regularly we hear news reports of fresh outbreaks of salmonella and other forms of food poisoning, and each time there are victims who have suffered the most terrible sickness and pain.

It's easy to dismiss food poisoning as a minor inconvenience, but in fact it is severely debilitating, and in extreme cases it can be fatal.

Yet by taking a few elementary precautions in your day to day activities you can drastically reduce your chances of catching it.

The first place to start is with your personal hygiene habits. If you don't always wash your hands after going to the toilet then you need to start doing so now. This is probably the most basic and essential step in keeping a civilised level of personal cleanliness. Yet so many people neglect to do this. Tome, that's just asking for trouble sooner or later, and is in any event a betrayal of everyone else you come into contact with.

We all have to attend to certain bodily functions several times a day, and when you do, especially if you have used a public convenience or rest room to do so, you will invariably have on your hands a myriad of germs and microbes that carry potential or actual diseases. Until our hands are cleansed by washing we will infect nearly all surfaces that we touch, such as door handles, keyboards, tables and chairs.

When someone else touches these items soon after, or has contact with us, e.g. shakes hands, then that person becomes contaminated. That means that if they then put their hand in their mouth or their eye they can become infected with whatever disease those germs or microbes were carrying.

I still see people coming out of smelly, germ-laden public lavatories without even glancing at the wash basins. Yet they've been in a place rife with both air borne and surface bound germs and microbes. The very smell in the air tells you that it is an unhealthy place to be in and that you should therefore beware. Until such people actually DO wash their hands everything they touch will be contaminated with the harmful bacteria and shigella that is without doubt increasing and multiplying on their hands.

If all the doctors and nurses, patients and visitors, hospital workers and porters and everyone else to be found in hospitals simply washed their hands after doing what we all have to do a few times a day, then all the so-called hospital super-bugs, the MRSA and everything else that we spend millions of pounds or dollars trying to fight each year, all of it would simply disappear.

However, don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen. The rest of us have to take precautions to protect ourselves and those for whom we are responsible, such as washing our hands when returning home from a trip out, even if only to somewhere a short distance away.

Always make a point of washing your hands thoroughly before preparing food. If the ingredients of the meal include meat, fish, fowl or eggs then wash after each time you've handled them.

The next point is to never eat raw food that comprises meat, fish, fowl, milk or eggs. Sea food is especially prone to harbour harmful bacteria, so be particularly careful when eating this. Wash all food under the cold tap before cooking or eating.

Cooking meat, fish or fowl requires particular care. Bacteria is very quick to form and multiply if given half a chance, but it cannot do so otherwise than between the temperatures of 4.5degrees and 65.5 degrees Celsius. So keep it chilled below the former until cooking it at temperatures of above the latter, which should kill all bacteria. Plain enough?

Make sure of this, cook meat until there is no more pink left init, fowl until none of the joints are red and fish until it flakes.

If using a microwave oven use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. Keep meat gravy or juice away from other food. Use separate utensils, especially a chopping board, for meat and other animal products on the one hand and everything else on the other. Wash them with bleach or lathered water afterwards. In fact wash the whole kitchen work top area regularly and always after preparing dishes containing animal products. Replace sponges regularly and use paper kitchen towels for wiping down.

Remember that food left at room temperature for 2 hours or more can be contaminated, especially if it is high in protein, such as meat, eggs and chips.

When defrosting meat or poultry, remember that the surface will defreeze more quickly than the inside and that therefore bacteria may be growing on the outside by the time the inside is unfrozen. Defreeze it in the refrigerator to avoid this problem. If keeping anything for another meal, put it back in the refrigerator immediately. And never keep meat or poultry, or fish, above vegetables or other kinds of non-meat food in the refrigerator in case anything falls down to cause contamination.

Trust your instincts. If food doesn't somehow look right then it usually isn't. A quick test with your nose should detect any tell-tale smell of decay or contamination.

Finally, eat your food slowly, relish it and allow your body and digestive system ample time and optimum conditions for digesting it. Bon appetite!

About the author:
Philip Gegan is a writer and practitioner of Acupressure. He challenges you to read his advice and NOT be able to press away at least 10 kinds of pain, including headaches, colds, flu, hangovers, asthma, heartburn, and even . . . acne(!) at . . .http://www.pressawaypain.com.
Philip Gegan
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