Skip to main content
Accessibility  |  About  |  Contact  |  Privacy  |  Terms

Always Read Food Labels and Cooking Instructions

  • Published: 2011-05-23 (Revised/Updated 2014-02-03) : U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  • Synopsis: Take the cooking directions and handling instructions on food labels seriously to help keep you and your family healthy.

Main Document

Quote: "While botulism is one of the most menacing foodborne illnesses, others are potentially quite serious as well, and product labels can help you avoid them."

Taking the handling instructions on food labels seriously can go a long way toward keeping you and your family healthy.

Ignoring the labels can lead to very serious illnesses. Here are some recent examples.

Unrefrigerated Soup Tied to Botulism Cases

Recently, a consumer in the South bought a plastic container of soup from a salad bar in a supermarket. It was sold cold and clearly labeled:

HEAT & SERVE / KEEP REFRIGERATED

The soup sat unrefrigerated for a day or two before it was heated. The consumer tasted it and threw it out because it was "sour." Despite having eaten very little of the soup, the consumer ended up in the hospital with botulism.

A similar case occurred in the Midwest last February. The consumer bought soup in a pack of two-plastic containers. It also was sold cold, and the labels also said to keep it refrigerated. One container was consumed immediately, with no ill effects. But, the consumer left the other container unrefrigerated for a week. Again, the consumer heated it, tasted it, and threw it out. And, again, that consumer also was hospitalized with botulism.

Botulism is as serious as food poisoning gets. It can result in respiratory failure and death. Even when patients survive, they may be hospitalized and on a ventilator for months, and they may suffer permanent neurological damage. So when a label says KEEP REFRIGERATED, keep the product refrigerated!

Follow the Label to Defeat Bacteria

While botulism is one of the most menacing foodborne illnesses, others are potentially quite serious as well, and product labels can help you avoid them. For example, if you pick up a package of hamburger in the grocery store, you'll find a label with "Safe Handling Instructions" which say to cook ground beef thoroughly. Don't trust the color of the meat - use a food thermometer to be sure that the internal temperature is 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

"Cook thoroughly" means that you need to cook to a safe minimum cooking temperature - 160 degrees Fahrenheit for hamburger. Don't trust the color of the meat - use a food thermometer to be sure.

What if you don't follow the label and the food is undercooked? Then you and your family are at risk of food poisoning from bacteria like E. coli. The worst type of E. coli can lead to kidney failure and even death. Children age four and under are particularly susceptible.

Microwave Labels Protect You, Too

Always read and follow the cooking instructions on frozen microwave dinners to kill any dangerous bacteria that may be in the food.

Similar Topics

1 - Best Way to Cook Mushrooms to Maintain Nutritional Value - FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology.
2 - How to Get Rid of Cooked Cabbage Odor in House - Disabled World.
3 - Is Ready to Bake Cookie Dough Safe to Eat - Infectious Diseases Society of America.
4 - Always Read Food Labels and Cooking Instructions - U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
5 - Kellogg's Challenge to Think Outside the Cereal Box - Kellogg Canada Inc..
From our Cooking Tips and Hints section - Full List (14 Items)

Submit disability news, coming events, as well as assistive technology product news and reviews.


Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.


Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.


List of awareness ribbon colors and their meaning. Also see our calendar of awareness dates.


Blood Pressure Chart - What should your blood pressure be, and information on blood group types/compatibility.



1 - Hearing Charities of America's Hearing Aid Project Changing Lives with Donor's Help
2 - A More Complete Mediterranean Diet May Protect Against Aggressive Prostate Cancer
3 - U.S. Mortality Rate Improvement Slowed by Rise in Obesity
4 - Delta Introduces Enhanced Requirements for Customers Traveling with Service or Support Animals



Citation


Disclaimer: This site does not employ and is not overseen by medical professionals. Content on Disabled World is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. See our Terms of Service for more information.

Reporting Errors: Disabled World is an independent website, your assistance in reporting outdated or inaccurate information is appreciated. If you find an error please let us know.