How do I avoid food poisoning?
You can take a few simple steps to avoid food poisoning:
- Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
- Clean countertops, cutting boards, knives and utensils before exposing them to different food items.
- Wash your hands and utensils often.
- Don't put raw and cooked meats on the same plate.
- If knives have been used to cut up uncooked chicken, do not use them to cut up other ingredients that will not be cooked.
- Cook meat thoroughly. Use a meat thermometer if needed and make sure beef is cooked to at least 160°F, chicken and other poultry to 180°F and fish to 140°F.
- Don't use packaged food that has expired.
- Throw away food in bulging or dented cans.
- Refrigerate leftover food if it isn't going to be eaten within 4 hours.
- Don't eat wild mushrooms.
- Don't eat soft cheeses (especially imported) if you are pregnant or have a weak immune system.
- When traveling abroad, don't eat raw fruits or vegetables that haven't been washed in an antimicrobial rinse and avoid unfiltered (or unboiled) tap water.
- When at restaurants or social gatherings, avoid foods that have been left out of the refrigerator for long periods of time.
How can I avoid food poisoning from fish?
To avoid ciguatera poisoning, don't eat the fish that commonly carry the poison. This includes amberjack, grouper, snapper, sturgeon, king mackerel, barracuda and moray eel. The poison is more concentrated in a fish’s internal organs, so you should never eat those parts of a fish.
To avoid scombroid poisoning, don't eat any fish that has not been refrigerated properly. Be especially careful when you eat fish such as tuna, sardines, mackerel, mahi-mahi or anchovies.
Poisoning, Envenomation, and Trauma from Marine Creatures by RA Perkins, M.D., M.P.H. and SS Morgan, M.D. (American Family Physician February 15, 2004, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20040215/885.html)
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff