10 Ways to Prevent Food Poisoning

Warmer weather begs for cookouts and picnicking, but as temperatures climb so does the risk of harmful bacteria, viruses or parasites seeping into your food. According internist Jerry Correces, M.D., with Meritus Internal Medicine-Robinwood, food poisoning occurs during processing, handling, transporting, cooking or storing of food.

Keep cold food cold

  • Fill your cooler with one-fourth of ice or ice substitute to keep food at 40 °F or below to prevent bacterial growth.
  • Separate food and beverages into two separate coolers since picnickers open and close coolers to grab beverages.
  • Use Ziploc bags to keep raw meats and fish securely wrapped and pack in a separate cooler from other food and beverages.
  • Keep foods like chicken salad or desserts on trays of ice and replace ice frequently.
  • Don’t let cold food sit outdoors longer than two hours or one hour if the temperature is above 90 °F.
  • Avoid putting a cooler in the trunk of your car or in direct sunlight. Cover the cooler with a blanket for extra insulation.

Keep hot foods hot

  • Use a food thermometer to check if your meat is done (160 °F for hamburger and 165 °F for chicken)
  • Use the side of your grill rack to keep meats hot until serving.
  • Use a clean platter for cooked meats—not the same platter used for raw meat.
  • Wrap hot foods in foil and place in an insulated container.

Signs of Food Poisoning

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramping and overall weakness are signs of food poisoning which can begin two to six hours after eating contaminated food. Dr. Correces, recommends the BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast) diet and drinking plenty of fluids that contain electrolytes. Symptoms subside in several days, but be sure to drink plenty of fluids and rest.