The Merman Law Firm has compiled some tips for avoiding food poisoning at home.  The key is to avoid cross-contamination by following these simple steps:

1. Separate for Safety

Store raw meats on a plate in the refrigerator, particularly if they are defrosting. This will keep any juices that may escape from dripping down onto other products. Store ready-to- eat meats, such as lunch meat, separately from raw meats. It’s a good idea to wrap raw meats in the plastic bags provided at the meat counter at the grocery store. Keep those items separate from ready-to-eat products, even in the grocery cart.

2. Sanitize Before, During and After

Clean all surfaces thoroughly both before and after food preparation. Use a sanitizing spray that contains bleach as an added measure of protection. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water both before food preparation and particularly after handling raw meat. Wash dish towels and dry them in the dryer regularly. Run kitchen sponges through the dishwasher or microwave them on high for one minute on a regular basis to kill microorganisms. Use paper towels, never a sponge, to clean up any spills of juice from raw meats.

3. Fruits and Veggies Aren’t Innocent

Food safety doesn’t limit itself to raw meats. Fruits and vegetables can harbor their share of bacteria too. Even if you don’t eat the skin, microorganisms on the skin can spread to the inside of the food when it’s cut. Rinse all fruits and vegetables under running water prior to cutting or eating.

4. Choose Your Cutting Board Carefully

It’s a good idea to have two cutting boards as part of any well-stocked kitchen to promote food-handling safety. Use one for raw meat only, and one for cooked foods as well as raw fruits and vegetables. A non-porous material like acrylic is a better choice than wood for a cutting board, and you can run it through the dishwasher. Cutting boards that you cannot put into the dishwasher should be sanitized frequently. Clean and sanitize the kitchen counter after handling raw meat before making anything else. Even if the meat was on a cutting board, small droplets of juice from the raw meat could have transferred to the counter. Wash utensils after cutting raw meat, or better yet, use a fresh set to prepare the salad.

5. Cross Contamination in Your Own Backyard

Avoiding cross contamination extends to the backyard with grilling safety too. You can use marinades to baste when cooking, but only if you plan to cook the meat completely. Never brush a marinade that contained raw meat onto cooked meats. Cross contamination can occur if a brush is used to put sauce on raw meat, and the brush is then put back into the sauce. Use a fresh utensil to move cooked meats from the grill; don’t use the same one that was used to transfer raw meat to the grill. Always use a clean plate when bringing items that have been grilled back into the kitchen.

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