4 best practices to prevent foodborne illness
Friday, Sep 27th 2013

Foodborne illness is one of the most pervasive ailments due to the number of different strains that can affect people as well as the significant number of potential sources. While most food has some types of bacteria, most of it is harmless. For the bacteria that causes illnesses, thoroughly cooking food typically mitigates the danger. Many people continue to have cases of food poisoning, with a lot of investigations failing to identify the source. Here are a few best practices to prevent foodborne illness:

1. Question and inspect
A major cause of food poisoning can occur from raw food accidently mixing with other products through faulty packaging. Many people may simply pick up something and toss it into their cart, but this could potentially end up making them sick. Raw meat should be put into a plastic bag to prevent any juice from contaminating other food, and packaging should be inspected for any torn or crushed edges, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Any open packages should be reported to store management to deter other individuals from getting sick. Bulging caps and cracks on jars or cans can also be signs of potential tampering and should be avoided. Doing thorough examinations of the products will ensure that they are viable for consumption.

2. Keep track of recalls
While packaging can be a major indicator of a contaminated product, the items can still be tainted even in the absence of external signs. Some food items can be corrupted during processing or distributor mishandling, meaning that buyers may not know that their food is bad until it's too late. By monitoring any recalls, consumers can better deter potential foodborne illnesses. Many health departments routinely inspect public food service establishments as well as investigate food poisoning cases in order to better inform customers about the dangers, according to the MLive? Media Group. This effort will ensure that people are able to enjoy their products and have a better awareness to storage and preparation best practices. Cases of food poisoning should also be reported right away in order for health officials to begin investigating and determine if there is a larger problem as the cause.

3. Monitor conditions
Many foodborne illnesses can also occur from improper storage. All foods have different specifications relating to freezing temperatures and refrigeration conditions. However, with temperature monitoring, the food will be better regulated. Perishables should be stored right away due to the possibility of spoiling. Fridges are typically kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit while the freezer temperature is at 0 degrees, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Ensuring that the spaces aren't crowded and that raw meat products are kept away from other items will give consumers the assurance that they won't get sick. For every step of the product's shelf-life, the environmental conditions should be appropriately monitored.

4. Cook thoroughly
Properly cooking food is possibly the most important step to foodborne illness prevention. All meat, poultry, eggs and seafood should be appropriately prepared in order to kill off harmful bacteria. ABC News recommends using a temperature sensor to ensure that the meat product is at the appropriate level and is thoroughly cooked. Improper handling during this process is one of the main causes of food poisoning, which makes it important to have only healthy individuals preparing the food. In some cases, people have gotten sick due to food handlers having an illness while preparing the products. This is crucial to avoid for manufacturers, food service establishments and within the consumer's own home.

Food poisoning cases can differ with those affected by the viruses and bacteria. However, by observing proper storage and handling best practices, consumers can better prevent foodborne illnesses.