Cookout Clues: Signs of Food Poisoning and 5 Prevention Tips
Have you been to a cookout recently? The inviting smell of the grill and the sunshine outside can make you forget about storing the leftovers now sitting out on the picnic table. It’s always important to think about food safety – food poisoning can strike anytime, whether you’re grilling in the summer or making soup in the winter.
Food poisoning comes from eating food that carries certain bacteria, viruses or parasites. These germs may grow on your food if it sits out for too long. They also might spread from raw meat, eggs, seafood or someone’s hands. It could be a few hours or even days before symptoms appear. When in doubt, throw it OUT! Not all symptoms are the same, but here are some of the most common signs of food poisoning:
The best thing to do is defend yourself from sickness in the first place. Here are five things you can do to prevent food poisoning:
- Wash Everything! – Practice good hygiene when cooking or handling foods. Wash your hands, cooking utensils, cutting boards, kitchen counter – if it’s around your food, be safe and wash it. Use separate cutting boards for meats, vegetables and fruits.
- Meaty Mindfulness – Raw meat can carry harmful bacteria that could spread to other foods. When cooking with meat, make sure to wash the knife and meat-safe cutting board you used. Be sure to wash your hands too. Once your meat goes on the grill or in the oven, make sure it’s cooked thoroughly before you eat it. Use a clean plate/platter to put cooked meat on after it’s cooked.
- Take Care With Temperature – To help slow bacteria growth, keep your cooked foods at a temperature above 140 degrees and your chilled foods at a temperature below 40 degrees.
- Keep It Cool – Be sure to pack up and chill your leftovers as soon as you can. Bacteria grows fast at room temperature – two hours is the maximum time food can sit out. If it’s hotter than 90 degrees, then the most time food can sit out is one hour.
- Eat With Extra Care – Being mindful about how the food you eat is handled can help you avoid food poisoning. Bacteria may spread when vegetables in the garden are watered with dirty water or when someone with germs on their hands handles your food. Always use your best judgment and take care to handle your food safely. Hand washing is your best protection!
If you do get food poisoning, make sure you have plenty of fluids and rest. If you’re not feeling better soon or you have serious symptoms, contact your health care provider.
About the Author
Penny Crumpton, RDN, CDE, is a registered dietitian with Cone Health Nutrition and Diabetes Education Services