When you may feel as if you just picked up a stomach bug, you might actually be suffering from foodborne illness. These illnesses are more common than you might think. Fortunately, you can prevent these illnesses from affecting your life by engaging in solid food prep and storage practices. Here are three tips to help you to combat foodborne illness:

Good Hygiene Practices

According to the North Devon Council, the cardinal rule of food preparation is to wash your hands thoroughly before handling any food. If you have any type of skin abrasion or cut on your hands, it is a good idea to protect the food by wearing rubber gloves when prepping and cooking. Your food prep surfaces should always be cleaned before and after use. This is especially important when using cutting boards because the offending bacteria can seep into the cracks and transfer to your food. For this reason, it is a good idea to use separate cutting boards for raw meat.

Proper Food Preparation

According to Emroch & Kilduff, appropriately cleaning, refrigerating, and cooking food products can help prevent the growth of foodborne illness-causing agents such as salmonella, e.coli, norovirus, listeria, and giardia. While they may look clean, it is imperative that you wash all of your fruits and vegetables prior to consumption. It is also important to refrigerate all leftovers within an hour. If the food sits out at room temperature any longer than that, it may begin to develop harmful bacteria. Proper food prep practices should also be considered when grilling food outside with special care taken to ensure that the meat has reached the proper internal temperature.

Read the Label

According to the British Heart Foundation, food labels are a treasure trove of information designed to help inform you and prevent foodborne illness. The first thing that you should always look at is the expiration date. An expiry date should not be ignored. You should also pay close attention to the safe handling instructions part of the label. Lastly, if a label instructs you to keep the product refrigerated, make sure you do it. Failure to do so could lead to a serious case of botulism.

Taking the proper care to ensure that the food you consume is properly cleaned and prepared can go a long way in avoiding a host of harmful illnesses. Despite the food supply being safer than ever before, it is still important to be aware of these safe food practices. It’s better to take precautions and prevent any illnesses than to do nothing and suffer the consequences.

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