Prevent Food-borne Illnesses

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Food safety is something that every cook needs to take seriously. With 81 million cases of food-borne sickness occurring every year in the United States, it's important to understand how food poisoning can be prevented.

Thankfully, most people who get sick as a result of contaminated food recover quickly and without the need for medical intervention. But sometimes, the illnesses can become serious, even leading to death. Although it may be rare, food-borne illnesses are still an issue that needs to be taken into consideration.

The most common types of bacteria found in food are E coli, staph (staphylococcus aureus) and salmonella. If someone eats food contaminated with these bacteria, the end result is food poisoning. Even if the food is contaminated-such as by bacteria that is found in animal products-you usually can kill many of the pathogens that cause sickness by cooking the meat at a higher temperature.

Undercooked seafood, red meat or poultry can easily result in exposure to harmful bacteria. Cross-contamination of food can also result in spreading bacteria. The food itself is not always to blame, however. If you don't wash your hands after using the bathroom, you could be harboring E coli on your hands. Open wounds on your skin could also contain staph. Without proper hand washing and keeping open wounds covered, you could potentially be transferring those bacteria onto food that you touch.