Oysters should be off the menu and be wary of picnics. That is, at least, if you want to avoid getting food poisoning.
For a microbiologist has shared her must-know guide of dos and don’ts to stop you being struck down with crippling stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Dr Primrose Freestone, a senior lecturer at the University of Leicester, says she avoids eating in certain settings — such as BBQs and picnics — and never asks for a doggy bag for her leftovers at restaurants.
Despite being seemingly harmless activities, they raise the risk of becoming unwell due to incorrectly prepared food — which can be deadly in severe cases.
Here are the tips she shared with The Conversation.
Dr Primrose Freestone, a senior lecturer at the University of Leicester, says she avoids eating in certain settings — such as BBQs and picnics — and never asks for a doggy bag for her leftovers at restaurants
Avoid BBQs and picnics
Moving mealtimes outside for picnics and BBQs is a summer highlight for millions of us.
But Dr Freestone warned that the risk of food poisoning skyrockets as soon as food is taken outdoors due to unclean hands, germ-ridden insects and the temperature. She said that she ‘rarely’ eats alfresco.
Washing hands before touching food is vital for avoiding becoming unwell but there are rarely facilities to do so when eating alfresco, she said.
While hand sanitisers are better than nothing, they aren’t always going to kill germs lurking on your food, according to Dr Freestone.
Additionally, flies, wasps and ants are in abundance and often swarm when food is being eaten outside, which can spread E coli, salmonella and listeria, she noted.
Controlling the temperature of food outdoors poses another challenge, as warm weather encourages germs to grow, Dr Freestone said.
Thoroughly cooking food on a BBQ can also be tricky, raising the risk of consuming bacteria that causes food poisoning.
Be cautious of buffets
Filling your plate with an array of food while at a restaurant, hotel or all-inclusive holiday buffet might sound like a dream.
But it is not risk-free, warns Dr Freestone.
Trays of fruit, meat and eggs are left exposed to the elements, with insects, dust and other diners — touching, coughing or sneezing — all posing a contamination risk.
While perishable food, such as seafood, salad and desserts, are safe to eat for two hours once taken out the fridge, it is hard to tell how long buffet food has been on display.
And food that is lukewarm rather than hot, classed as 60C (140F), is a breeding ground for bacteria that cause food poisoning.
Dr Freestone recommended sticking to toast at any buffet that doesn’t meet these criteria, or being first in line at the buffet and watch the clock for how often perishable food is replaced.
Don’t eat shellfish
Despite being popular, raw shellfish, such as oysters, mussels and cockles, can be a vehicle of illness.
Even if they don’t look or smell off, they can be packed with germs, such as the bacteria vibrio, which cause sickness and diarrhoea, according to Dr Freestone, who said she would ‘never’ eat raw shellfish.
Oysters can also contain norovirus, transmitted by human sewage entering areas where they are grown, turning them into a vehicle of disease.
Consuming raw shellfish in any form poses a food poisoning risk, Dr Freestone warned.
Around 14,000 people in the UK and 80,000 in the US become unwell from eating seafood, with oysters the biggest culprit.
However, health chiefs note that with 13million oysters served in the UK every year, the risk of becoming ill are relatively low.
Avoid bagged salad
Ready-to-eat bags of lettuce, spinach and rocket are a fridge staple for many.
But they are another no-no for Dr Freestone. They can also be packed with E. Coli, salmonella and listeria, which grow 1,000-times better when packed in a bag with juices from salad leaves, she warned.
Outbreaks of food poisoning have been traced back to bags of rocket.
And studies suggest the keeping salad in bags helps bacteria mutate and become more infectious.
However, Dr Freestone noted that the risk is small for most, as long as bags of salad are refrigerated, washed well and eaten soon after being bought.
Rethink your cooking habits
Most people may think that they know their way around their kitchen.
But they may fall foul of Dr Freestone’s list of dos and don’ts for avoiding food poisoning.
Washing hands before and after handling food is a must, as is using different chopping boards for raw and cooked food, she says.
And while keeping leftovers is a good way to reduce food waste, Dr Freestone urges against saving cooked rice to reheat the next day.
This is because uncooked rice can be contaminated with Bacillus cereus, which causes food poisoning.
The bacteria is killed when rice is cooked but its spores survive, which allows the bacteria to grow back as the rice cools to room temperature and is then reheated.
Dr Freestone also recommends not always trusting use-by dates.
If a label suggests a food is safe to eat for a few more days, she would throw it out if it looks or smells different than expected or the packaging looks swollen — a telltale sign that bacteria have grown in the food.
Don’t ask for a doggy bag
After enjoying a meal at a restaurant, it can be tempting to ask to takeaway leftovers to enjoy later.
But doing so could be another food poisoning risk, warns Dr Freestone.
For they have usually exceeded the two-hour time limit for food to be refrigerated within after cooking, making then unsafe to eat.
She wrote: ‘I never collect “doggy bags” of food leftovers (they have usually exceeded the two-hour time limit), even if they really are intended for a pet.’
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk
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