This week, I decided I was giving up all artificial sweeteners, which meant a large garbage bag and a careful scrutiny of what was lurking in my fridge and pantry. And while I was at it, I also looked at expiration dates. I tossed lots of unrecognizable objects in my fridge, once food, now science experiments, and some canned food that moved with us seven years ago.
And while I was tossing, I thought of the ongoing food recalls because of salmonella, and was wondering if any of my toss-outs could have caused some health issues. No one wants to get salmonella, and I’m sure that over the years I’ve had my case of it quite a few times.
Salmonella typically causes diarrhea, fever and tummy cramping, affects about 4 million people annually, and is usually flushed from your system before it causes major problem. Although I desperately want to lose weight, this is not my diet of choice. I speak from experience: Once, I landed in the hospital because of dehydration I’m sure was caused by a restaurant meal, but an IV and some antibiotics were all I needed to be feeling terrific in a few days. Unfortunately, some cases are so severe – some even fatal – that each of us should be as careful as possible at home to avoid poisoning ourselves, family and friends.
Some tips from the Centers for Disease Control, combined with the best practices I have learned over the years:
• To avoid cross-contamination, designate a cutting board for meat, poultry and fish, and one for fruits and veggies. Be sure to wash cutting boards well with antibacterial soap, or even better, wash with soap then wash in the dishwasher.
• Do not leave uncooked meat, poultry, shellfish, and milk products at room temperature for extended periods of time.
• Cook all meat and poultry thoroughly, and reheat leftovers well.
• Never baste or sauce your food with the marinade used for flavoring. If you want to use the marinade for basting or as a sauce, make a double batch: one for the marinade, the other for the baste or sauce.
• Wash raw fruits and vegetables with antibacterial soap and warm water before consuming — or use one of the special veggie washes.
• Wash your hands and all cooking utensils well with antibacterial soap and warm water after handling raw meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, and vegetables.
• Choose pasteurized dairy products and fruit juices, since pasteurization kills salmonella.
• Bacteria love to grow in raw or undercooked foods left at room temperature, so after eating or a trip to the market, cover and refrigerate foods promptly.