Preventing Foodborne Illness
Anyone who has ever gotten a touch of food poisoning will tell you that
spending the night hugging the toilet isn't a pleasant experience.
Foodborne illness can leave you weak and unable to function.
Foodborne illnesses are not entirely avoidable, but you can greatly
lower your risks when armed with the proper knowledge and tools for
prevention. Try the following tips to avoid foodborne
illness during the food preparation process.
Do not consume food or beverages while preparing food.
The potential for cross-contamination occurs while eating or drinking
during the food prep process. When the hands touch the mouth area while
eating, or the hands touch the lip of a glass where the mouth touched,
and then your hands touch the food again the opportunity exists to pass
germs and bacteria.
Use multiple cutting boards.
Consistently use dedicated cutting boards for different types of food. Using one for raw beef, one for raw poultry, one for produce and one
for dry goods prevents each food group from coming in contact with
another food's bacteria. Wash each board thoroughly after each use.
Don't forget about your refrigerator.
When defrosting foods like raw beef or poultry in your refrigerator,
place them on a drip catching tray, on the lowest shelf available.
Potentially hazardous foods should not be placed higher than other
foods in the fridge, because the blood drippings created can drip onto
and contaminate other foods below.
Use multiple towels. Do not use the
same dish towel for wiping hands and countertops if you are working with
foods that are potentially hazardous. Bacteria on the towel can be
transferred again later onto hands or around surfaces. Also be careful
when wearing an apron as they can also collect and transfer bacteria
when you absentmindedly wipe hands on it repeatedly.
Wash your hands. Good hand washing
practices cannot be stressed enough. Be mindful of when you need to
wash your hands during the food prep process:
After handling potentially hazardous foods; after coughing, sneezing, smoking, using the bathroom, eating or drinking.
eating and before handling ready to eat foods. Before grabbing shredded
cheese out of a bag, or deli meat from the packaging, shared bags of
chips, etc... It is easy to contaminate a whole bag of product with
This information has been approved by Angela Rossi, Director of Clinical Nutrition Services (September 2009).