Exploring Human Potential

Tips for Avoiding Food-Related Illness

Posted on | February 7, 2007 | Comments Off on Tips for Avoiding Food-Related Illness

After the recent outbreaks of food-related illness all over the country, I decided to do a little research and find out more about how, exactly, our food can become contaminated with bacteria such as E. coli and why this continues to happen. I assumed that if I was curious and concerned, a lot of other people might be, too.

What I found out was startling. And if anything, it made me more concerned about the threat posed by food-related illnesses. As you’ll see in this week’s Health Politics program, food-borne microbes sicken about 76 million Americans each year, and they kill 5,000. Are there continuous breakdowns in the safety system? Somewhat, yes. There’s no doubt that the FDA should increase its number of food safety inspectors in order to cut down on food contamination. But the truth is, no matter how many protections we put in place, our food is vulnerable. And the more it’s handled, cut or broken, the more chances there are for contamination to occur. This means, as our society eats more and more prepared and packaged foods, we’re increasing our risk of exposure to bacteria.

Until a fail-safe solution is reached, we as consumers must continue (or start!) to practice proper food handling, cooking and storage at home. Here are the four core practices:

CLEAN: Wash hands and surfaces often

SEPARATE: Don’t cross-contaminate!

COOK: Cook to proper temperature

CHILL: Refrigerate promptly

For a more detailed list of food safety tips to use at home, click here. But home isn’t the only place you eat, right? Check out “Food Safety Away from Home,” which covers everything from restaurant dining to picnics.

Do you have other suggestions that will help readers steer clear of food-related illness? Please click on “Comments” below to share your thoughts.


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