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Contaminants in Food

Of all the foods, poultry has the greatest incidence of contamination 60 percent or more of raw poultry carries some bad bacteria. How can we prevent these contaminants?

The main organisms that cause food-borne illness include seven bacteria (Campylobacter jejuni, Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium perfringens, Vibrio vulnificus, Listeria monocytogenes, and Shigella), two protozoa (Giardia lamblia and Entamoeba histolytica), and virus (hepatitis A).

They live in meat, poultry, raw seafood, dairy products, coconut, fresh pasta, spices, chocolate products, seafood, salads, desserts made with milk products, and vegetables grown in the soil fertilized with contaminated manure.

Of all the foods, poultry has the greatest incidence of contamination 60 percent or more of raw poultry carries some bad bacteria.

How can we prevent these contaminants?

1. At the supermarket, pick up packaged and canned foods before fresh and frozen foods.

2. Examine containers and reject cans that are bulging or dented, jars that are cracked or have loose or bulging lids.

3. Never buy outdated food. Check expiration and sell by use by dates.

4. Don't eat raw milk, cheese, or shellfish if you have a health problem, especially one that may have impaired your immune system. You might want to avoid these products in any case.

5. Buy only refrigerated eggs marked Grade A or better. Check to make sure no eggs in the carton are cracked or leaking.

6. Buy meat, poultry, fish, frozen foods, and other perishables last. Put in separate plastic bags.

7. Look for cleanliness at the salad bar and fish counter. Beware if you see cooked shrimp in the same bed of ice as raw fish or they could become contaminated.

8. Buy shellfish only from markets that buy from state-approved sources.

9. If it will be more than an hour before you get home, put frozen and perishable foods in an ice chest.

10. Refrigerate or freeze perishable foods right away, fresh meat, vegetables, dairy products, mayonnaise, and catsup. Check labels for storage advice. Throw out items that you neglect to refrigerate. Keep your refrigerator at 4C Fahrenheit, freezer at 0C Fahrenheit. Check them often to see that proper temperatures are maintained.

11. Make sure juices from meat and poultry don't contaminate other foods in your refrigerator.

12. Store eggs in their carton in the refrigerator, not in the door.

13. Don't crowd the refrigerator or freezer, and throw out spoiled food often, especially food that has molded.

14. Don't store foods under the sink or near household cleaning products and chemicals.

15. Put older cans to the front when storing canned goods so you will use them first. Don't use canned food that is sticky on the outside.

16. Don't leave hot or cold food standing at room temperature for too long. Keep foods meant to be hot, hot, and foods meant to be cold, cold.

17. Cook eggs until yolk begins to harden and white is firm.

18. Cook seafood thoroughly. Eat cooked seafood right away.

19. Cook hot dogs to 160 F, for several minutes. Never eat them raw.

20. Don't leave cooked foods standing out for more than two hours. Store in refrigerator in small packages. Store stuffing separately.

21. Use leftovers within three days.

22. Don't thaw frozen foods at room temperature. Thaw in refrigerator or microwave, defrost in cold water, or cook frozen.

23. Never taste food that you suspect is spoiled or is from damaged, bulging, or leaky cans.

24. Reheat foods until they reach a temperature of at least 165 F Fahrenheit.

25. Thoroughly clean cooking utensils and cutting boards every time you use them to prepare a food that may be contaminated, especially poultry. Don't cut up vegetables on a cutting board that has been used for preparing meat unless you wash it first. Bacteria contaminate wooden cutting boards less than plastic ones, but no matter what kind you use, you should always wash it with soup and water afterward.

26. Wash your hands before starting to cook and after you handle raw meat or poultry. Don't cook if you have an infected cut.

27. Keep the blade of the can opener clean. Take apart and clean food processors and meat grinders right after you use them.

28. Don't put cooked meat on an unwashed plate that held raw meat.

29. Wash fruits and vegetables in water.

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