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How can I help prevent food poisoning when preparing food?

Following are tips to help prevent food poisoning when preparing food:

  • Wash hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds. Rewash them after using the bathroom, handling pets, blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing or handling uncooked eggs, raw meat, poultry or fish and their juices.
  • If your hands have any sort of abrasion or infection, wear clean disposable gloves.
  • Thoroughly wash surfaces that come into contact with raw meat, poultry, fish or eggs with hot, soapy water before moving on to the next step of food preparation.
  • Use paper towels to clean kitchen surfaces. If you'd rather use a kitchen sponge or cloth (which often harbor germs) make sure to wash the cloths often in the hot cycle of your washing machine and place the sponge in the dishwasher or microwave (for no more than two minutes), which can effectively kill bacteria.
  • Keep cutting boards clean by washing in hot, soapy water after each use, then rinse and air-dry or pat dry with clean paper towels. They can be sanitized with a solution of one tablespoon liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water. To clean, cover the surface with the bleach solution and let it stand for several minutes, then rinse and air or pat dry.
  • Wash nonporous cutting boards (acrylic, glass, plastic and solid wood boards) in the dishwasher.
  • Replace cutting boards once they become excessively worn or develop deep grooves, which are hard to clean.
  • Always wash produce before using. This includes melons, lemons, limes and even fruits that you plan to peel. Organisms that might be lingering on the surface can spread inside when the fruit is cut.
  • Always thoroughly rewash a knife, plate or cutting board that has come in contact with raw food to avoid cross-contamination, a common cause of food-borne illness.
  • When using a food thermometer, wash the probe after each use with hot, soapy water.
  • Cover foods securely if you're making them ahead of time, and refrigerate them promptly, keeping them cold until it's time to reheat or serve.
  • Never defrost uncooked foods on the counter; always place them in the refrigerator, microwave or in a bowl of ice water. Use a plate or pan under the thawing food so the dripping does not spill onto other foods.

This content originally appeared on HealthyWomen.org.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.