Making sure food is safe is something people are increasingly concerned about. Eating “organic” and “natural” food is popular for those with concerns about safe food and eating, but is that enough?

Knowing how we can control food safety in our own homes should be a concern as well. How often do you think about how you store, prepare and cook your food? It may seem like common sense, but focusing on the basics of food safety can play a big role in your health. Here’s a simple overview of how to keep your food safe.

Foodborne illness


So why is food safety such a big deal? According to Centers for Disease Control, one in six people get sick and 3,000 die each year from foodborne illness.  Foodborne illness, more commonly known as “food poisoning,” occurs when you are exposed to contaminated food. This food doesn’t have to come from a restaurant or cafeteria; it can come from your own kitchen.

“Bugs”, bacteria, viruses, parasites, and toxins can all contribute to contamination of food.  It can occur during production, growing, harvesting, processing, storing, shipping or preparation. Transferring harmful organisms from one surface to another (cross-contamination) is often the cause. This transfer can occur between the food and contamination from animals, food handlers and equipment, as well as other food. It is especially common with raw, ready-to-eat foods such as fresh produce or salads.

Organic food is no less risky and can harbor contaminants as well.

Cooking can often destroy contaminants but risky foods are often uncooked or undercooked. Holding food at room or unsafe temperatures for too long increases the growth of the “bugs” that can make you sick. Getting sick can happen as quickly as 2-6 hours or up to several days after eating the food.  When mild, you can get cramps, diarrhea, fever and chills, headaches, nausea and vomiting, or weakness, which you get over in a few days.  However, it can be worse or more severe especially for at risk populations, such as young children, pregnant women and the elderly.

What can you do to avoid foodborne illness?

meat thermometer

  • Wash hands, utensils, and food surfaces often.
  • Separate raw food from ready-to-eat food when shopping, preparing, or storing food.
  • Promptly refrigerate or freeze perishable food don’t leave out more than 2 hours.
  • Safely defrost food. Microwave, refrigerate or put under running water.
  • When in doubt, throw it out. Discard and do not taste questionable food.
  • Cook food to a safe temperature using a food thermometer.
    • Fresh beef, veal, lamb, seafood and pork – 145 °F, let rest for 3 minutes.
    • Ground beef – 160 °F
    • Egg dishes – 160°F
    • Poultry, leftovers and casseroles – 165 °F
    • Eggs – Cook until yolk and white are firm.

Keep your leftovers safe

leftover pizza

Whether or not you have leftovers from your own home cooking or from a restaurant, it’s important to make sure perishable leftovers are refrigerated within 2 hours. Most should be eaten within 3 to 4 days and completely heated up before being eaten. Avoid eating cold or partially reheated leftovers, as they may contain harmful bacteria, and if you have any doubt err on the side of caution and discard them.

Staying healthy isn’t a hassle

Keep in mind, food safety doesn’t have to be a hassle; it just means taking some easy precautions to keep you happy and healthy. No one enjoys being sick, so make some simple changes today and take the guessing out of whether or not your food is safe to eat.

Cooked fresh vegetables 3-4 days
Cooked pasta 3-5 days
Cooked rice 7 days
Deli Meat 5 days
Cooked beef, pork, poultry, fish, and meat casseroles 3-4 days
Cooked patties and nuggets, gravy and broth 1-2 days
Cooked seafood 3-4 days
Soups and stews 3-4 days
Pizza 3-4 days


2 thoughts on “Can Your Food Make You Sick?

  1. Pingback: TOTW: Can Your Food Make You Sick? | ritasfoodadventures

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