Years ago when I was about 17, my friend and I stopped by a fast food restaurant for lunch. We both had a roast beef sandwich.
I remember that the roast beef looked a little “off” to me. It was just a tad grey around the edges. But it smelled okay and it tasted okay so we ate it.
By late that night and throughout the next couple of days, I had what I thought was the worst stomach virus of my life. Continuous vomiting and diarrhea for 2 days. It was not a fun time.
Once I felt well enough to go back to school, I got a chance to talk to my friend who I had gone to lunch with. Turns out, she had been sick with the same symptoms for the past several days too.
Coincidence? I don’t think so. More likely, what we had was not a stomach virus at all but was food poisoning.
Food poisoning is much more common than you think. In fact I had a doctor tell me that most of the cases of what people think are stomach viruses are actually food poisoning.
There are millions of cases of food related illness in the US every year. A lot of them could have been avoided.
Germs like Salmonella and Ecoli are the most prevalent offenders for food poisoning. Most people will get the symptoms like I had for a day or two and then recover. Some people will die from being contaminated from these bad bugs.
Below are some things you can do to avoid food poisoning. Most are common sense but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of them once in awhile.
- Make sure your hands are clean before handling food. Wash them thoroughly first to kill any bacteria that is living on your skin or nails.
- Make sure you use a clean surface to cut or prepare your foods. Wash all cutting boards, the counter tops and anything else that comes in contact with raw meat. Use hot water and an antibacterial cleaner.
- Make sure your food is thoroughly cooked.
- Do not eat raw eggs or anything that has raw eggs in it. When cooking with eggs, throw away dirty eggs and cracked eggs.
- Drink juices that are pasteurized.
- Thaw frozen food in the fridge.
- Canned goods should not look swollen. That’s a sure sign of botulism which is deadly.
- Make sure that lids are not loose when you buy jarred foods. The lids should also not look swollen.
- Be aware of the “use by” and “sell by” dates. Don’t buy or eat food past those dates.
- Refrigerate food as soon as possible after purchasing.
- And don’t leave cooked food out on the table longer than 2 hours.
- Label leftovers with dates so you don’t forget to use them up before they go bad.
- If you have any doubts about the food, such as the smell, color, taste or if you aren’t sure how old it is; just throw it out.
- Wash fruits and vegetable really well before eating.
Let’s eat safe out there folks!