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Food poisoning is often a consequence of the way food is prepared. Follow these food preparation safety tips to limit the risks to your family:

Wash your hands thoroughly before preparing meals
Our hands are harbingers of bacteria, and unclean hands are one of the primary ways foodborne illness is spread. No matter how clean you think you are, you touch contaminated surfaces all day long with every door you open or item you touch. So wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds prior to preparing food, rubbing them back and forth. (It’s the soap and friction, not the temperature of the water, that removes the bacteria.)

Ways of avoiding cross-contamination
One of the main ways people get sick is from cross-contamination: Using a surface or utensil for one thing and then re-using the same utensil to prepare a food item that is going to be served raw and/or cold. Here are some tips to avoid cross-contamination:

  • Don’t use the same cutting board or knives for meat and then use these same items for vegetables that you plan to serve raw
  • Avoid using the same towel to dry your hands after preparing different types of food.
  • Give your fridge, stove, and microwave handles a quick wipe with bleach water after preparing raw meat (assuming you touched these surfaces).

Don’t rinse meat
Many people rinse their meat. In fact, nearly 70% of people wash chicken. (Riordon, 2022) But all store-bought food comes pre-washed, so washing it again doesn’t make it any safer, and it actually greatly increases the risks, because it spreads harmful bacteria throughout your kitchen. “Rinsing meat or poultry with water can actually increase your chance of food poisoning by splashing raw juices and any bacteria they might contain onto your sink and counters,” says Elisabeth Hagen, undersecretary for food safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (Weise, 2-16-2012) So people are advised not to wash meat. If you insist on doing so, you can minimize the spread of bacteria by holding chicken closer to the faucet, turning the water on slowly and keeping it at a low level, and keeping washing times brief

Cooking meat to a safe temperature
It’s important to cook meat thoroughly to kill any bacteria it may harbor For decades the guideline was that meat had to be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit to be safe. Then in 201 I, the U.S. Department of Agriculture revised its guidelines, saying that all whole meats only have to be cooked to 145 degrees internally, which means pork roast can have a rosy interior. The previous guidelines were based on a parasitic disease that is no longer a problem with commercially grown pork. For other meats such as hamburger, the 160 degree guideline still remains, which is what it takes to kill bacteria.

Get the arsenic out of rice
Arsenic is a natural contaminant that tends to disproportionately concentrate in rice. Although the levels aren’t high enough to cause any immediate danger, who wants more arsenic in their diet? To get rid of the arsenic in rice while keeping most of the vitamins and minerals, parboil I cup rice in 4 cups of boiling water for 5 minutes. Then drain the water and replace it with 2 cups fresh water, then finish the cooking at low to medium heat.

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