In recent years, we have been experiencing unpredictable weather. In some American regions there have been unseasonably hot and humid summer weather. And temperatures are likely to continue to rise upwards this year. With temperatures in the mid-90’s and upwards, there are more opportunities for food spoilage than ever before. Food poisoning becomes a summer health challenge due to very high temperatures.
It is easy to forget how a simple trip to the grocery store and back home can cause meat or chilled deli products to go bad. Microorganisms can multiply between 40 and 140 degrees, and spoil food that are unintentionally left out.
As a gastroenterologist, I see patients that experience symptoms of food-borne illness like vomiting, stomach cramps, fever, nausea, and diarrhea. These symptoms are not pleasant and patients often overlook food-borne illness as a possible culprit. E. coli, a bacteria that causes common food-borne illnesses, can be life-threatening to young children and the elderly that have weak immune systems.
Here are some simple, Mindful precautions to avoid food poisoning this summer:
- Prepare Your Meals the Right Way: Thoroughly cleaning your produce can reduce your chances of getting foodborne illnesses. Clean vegetables and fruits thoroughly under cold water. Try a little distilled white vinegar in a mixture of cold water as a rinsing agent for your veggies and fruits.
- Keep Your Tools Clean: Cleaning also applies to washing your utensils with soap and warm water before and after preparing food to avoid cross contamination. Your hands are your most important cooking tools, so make sure that your hands are thoroughly cleaned as well.
- Mindful Cooking: Cook your food adequately and at the recommended temperatures. For cuts of pork cook the meat until it reached 145°F 160°F. For beef, veal, or lamb cook until the meat 145°F. And for the poultry the meat should heated up with an internal temperature of 165°F.
Keep Your Food at the Proper Temperature. If you are outdoors, for like a picnic, be sure to maintain the food in a cool and constant temperature. Keep food chilled in coolers and consume them as soon as possible. If you are handling raw meat at home, cook, refrigerate or freeze them for later consumption. Don’t let it lay out on the counter.