- When buying food, avoid damaged cans and packages. Buy only pasteurized milk, cheese, honey, apple cider and fruit juices. Check the “best before” date. Avoid alfalfa sprouts, cracked eggs and bruised or mouldy fruits and vegetables. Buy cold and frozen foods last when shopping and go directly home to refrigerate or freeze them.
- When storing food, keep perishable items in the fridge and keep meats on the bottom shelf. Don’t reuse plastic bags for food storage. If foods have become mouldy (e.g. cheese) discard them because mould has invisible roots penetrating the food.
- Food preparation is one area where many people have acquired unsanitary habits. “Be clean” is the motto of food preparation: clean hands, clean work surfaces, clean utensils and clean foods. Wash your hands with warm, soapy water.Wash fruits and vegetables under running water. Thaw frozen foods in the fridge, not at room temperature. Avoid contamination by keeping raw meats, their juices and packaging away from other foods. After preparing raw meats, clean the preparation area and all the equipment and cutting boards with hot, soapy water. To be sure, you could also rinse with a weak bleach solution (1 teaspoon of bleach in 1 litre of water).
- When cooking, make sure all food from animals (including meats, poultry, fish and eggs) is well done. Always keep hot food hot and cold food cold.Hot dogs should be cooked steaming hot. Cut the green part off potatoes and eat the white part inside. Don’t eat uncooked cookie dough or cake batter because of the potential of salmonella in the raw eggs.
- Leftovers are safe and practical to eat if handled properly. Store leftovers in the fridge or freezer right away. If it is a large amount of hot food, place it in a container and sit the container into a large bowl of ice water to cool it down before refrigerating. Eat leftovers within 2 to 3 days; label them with the date so you know how long they have been in the fridge. Reheat leftovers toste aming hot. When in doubt, throw it out because contaminated food does not always look or smell bad.
- When eating out, choose restaurants that are clean and appear to have a high standard of food sanitation. Eat cooked foods like well-done poultry, meat, shellfish and eggs. Hot foods should come to the table hot. Avoid salad bars, sandwich bars and juice bars. Some foods, like Caesar salad,gazpacho and mousse, may contain raw eggs. Sushi made with vegetables and cooked seafood is safer than sushi made with raw seafood. Take leftovers home and refrigerate immediately.
- When travelling, think even more about the safety of the food you eat and the water you drink. Some places you visit might not have clean water or safe food-handling practices.
- Reduce exposure to contaminants like mercury and PCBs by eating a wide variety of foods and limiting food known to have high levels of specific toxins.Tuna, for example, is theoretically a healthy food but should be limited to about 2 to 3 servings per week because of high mercury levels. Pregnant women and young children are particularly vulnerable to the ill effects of mercury.
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