Health Tip: Prevent Food-Borne Illnesses

Store and prepare food properly

(HealthDay News) -- Some 76 million people contract food-borne illnesses each year in the United States, triggering a range of symptoms from those that last only a few days to others requiring hospitalization.

Some foods can be contaminated during packaging before they ever reach your kitchen. In other cases, chicken and other meats, eggs and dairy products become contaminated by improper handling at home.

To keep germs in your food and kitchen at bay, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends thoroughly washing hands with anti-bacterial soap before and after touching any food. All meat, poultry and eggs should be thoroughly cooked to kill any bacteria. You should also avoid using the same utensils and surfaces to cut or prepare raw meat and vegetables, and thoroughly clean surfaces with anti-bacterial cleaner after they have been in contact with raw meat.

Wash all fruits and vegetables under running tap water before preparing or serving. Scrub to remove pesticides and any bacteria. Produce should not be left at room temperature for long periods, as this can promote bacterial growth.

Finally, wrap up all leftovers promptly in secure packaging and store in the refrigerator. You should discard any perishable foods that have been left unrefrigerated for long periods.

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