On food and cooking shows we’ve seen food enthusiasts trying out any adventurous dish that they are served. For show ratings, giving unconventional food a try is what brings viewers and ratings. But at times, people unknowingly consume food that is not properly cooked, or not cooked at all. What people don’t realize is that undercooked meat and unwashed vegetables can make them prone to food borne infections such as E. coli.
Escheria coli, or more commonly known as E.coli, are bacteria that absorb vitamins, hence, they are found in the intestines of animals and people. However, there are a few species of the bacteria, known as E. coli O157:H7, that are particularly harmful and when ingested and can cause serious infections and health risks. Serious illnesses include chronic diarrhea, or in extreme case, fatal kidney failure. Doctors and food safety experts have identified E. coli O157:H7 as the cause of most food borne ailments. Most cases have been reported because of consuming undercooked meat, as well as unwashed and packaged vegetables and fruit. It is not easy to diminish the risk of food poisoning altogether, but if you are aware of how to prepare and handle food safely, then you can prevent infection-causing bacteria from contaminating your food.
Handling Raw Meat Safely
No one is 100% safe from food-borne infections, but people with weak immune systems, pregnant women, children, and the elderly are more at risk than healthy adults. To make sure that you or anyone in your family does not get sick from consuming undercooked or contaminated meat, it is very important that you are cautious about safe and proper food-handling. Here are a few precautions that can minimize the risk of getting affected by these infections:
Properly wash your hands, and sanitize the area and utensils you’ll be using for handling meat:
- To ensure that your hands are entirely clean, you should wash them with soap and warm water for about 20 seconds, before and after handling meat and other foods, pets, children’s diapers, or using the washroom.
- Clean the area and utensils, using water and soap. Repeat this, every time you handle and prepare a different food item.
- Don’t use the same wash cloth or cleaning materials to sanitize the area. If you do, then sterilize them properly after each use so that the germs and bacteria don’t spread.
Don’t keep raw meat and other foods together:
- There are higher risks of cross contamination when raw meat is kept along with other food items. Keep your vegetables, fruit, dairy products, juices, eggs, and other food groups entirely separate from raw meat.
- Never use the same utensils for other food and raw meat. Meat should always be handled with separate knives, cutting boards, tongs, etc.
- Don’t put your cooked and raw meat in the same bowl or plate. Cooked meat should never be returned to a plate or use by a utensil that handled raw meat.
- Boil meat before you use marinades or batters on them. Also, using the same marinades that were used on raw foods must be avoided.