There are few other things that can be more upsetting than learning your dinner guests have foodborne illnesses. Will they come back for more? Imagine getting a call in the morning from a dinner guest asking what was in the food that could have made them spent the night over the toilet bowl. You can avoid that by making sure your food storage is safe. Something as simple as leaving food at room temperature for more than two hours could be the cause.
Common foodborne illnesses
E.Coli, Listeria, Norovirus and Salmonella are common food borne illnesses. The symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, chills and fever. Harmful parasites, bacteria, chemicals or viruses cause these infections or irritations of the gastrointestinal tract. Avoid this by following some simple food storage tips.
Appliance temperatures to prevent foodborne illnesses
The proper temperature of your refrigerator is 40° Fahrenheit or colder. Make sure your freezer’s temperature is not higher than 0° Fahrenheit. It is a good idea to check the temperatures from time to time, and buying an appliance thermometer may help.
Foodborne illnesses in ready-to-eat meals
It is best to use ready-to-eat foods as soon as you can. Although they can be stored in your fridge, bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses can grow in luncheon meats and other similar items. The risk is higher if your refrigerator temperature is higher than 40° F.
Check the storage directions on the labels of food items. While you know to refrigerate perishables like meat, dairy products and vegetables, other items with broken seals might need refrigeration. If you forgot to store it in the fridge it might be best to get rid of it.
Although mold is only a health threat to people with penicillin allergies, other harmful critters may be present in moldy food. Safe practice is to throw out anything that looks, smells or tastes off.
Beware of pathogenic organisms
Pathogenic organisms could be present in some foods, even it the food does not show any signs of being spoiled. Sometimes food that seems fine might have pathogenic bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses. Be particularly alert when you have undercooked or raw poultry, meat, seafood, eggs and milk. It could even be present on raw vegetables and fruit. Keeping these food items chilled below 40° F can slow down bacterial growth.
The two-hour rule to prevent foodborne illnesses
When you get home from a food shopping trip, pack the perishables away as soon as possible. The rule is to avoid leaving perishables at room temperature for longer than two hours. Note, that warm areas where the room temperature exceeds 90° F, the rule changes to one hour. This also applies to leftovers, take-out foods and doggie bags. Furthermore, ensure that the cold air in the fridge can circulate by avoiding to crowd the fridge or freezer.
Last but equally important
Reduce risks even further by making sure your hands, produce and surfaces are clean. Keep raw and ready-to-eat foods separate, and make sure to cook food at safe temperatures.
In short, follow these tips and your guests will look forward to your next dinner invitation.