The CDC estimates that one in six Americans encounter some form of food poisoning each year. Of those 50 million cases, 10 million are caused by food made at home.
The UMass bacteria detection tool is still years away from hitting the market, but there are still several ways to protect yourself from food poisoning:
1. Keep a clean work space
Germs can survive across all of the different surfaces in the kitchen, so it’s essential to keep the cooking area and your hands clean.
2. Avoid cross-contamination
Raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs can spread germs to ready-to-eat foods if not kept separate.
The CDC recommends using separate cutting boards and plates when handling these ingredients.
They should also be stored separately in the fridge.
3. Use a thermometer
To cook food safely, the internal temperature must get high enough to kill the germs that could cause food poisoning.
The correct internal temperature varies by ingredient, and only surefire way to tell if food is safely cooked is to use a food thermometer.
4. Store food properly
Storing food properly is essential to combating harmful bacteria.
Perishable food should be refrigerated within two hours of when it was purchased, and the refrigerator should be set to below 40°F.
5. Don’t rely solely on expiration dates
Expiration dates aren’t the only indication of when a food item should be thrown away.
If something seems to have a strange smell or color, it’s probably better to be safe and pitch it.
6. Don’t thaw frozen food on the counter
Thawing frozen foods on the counter allows bacteria to multiply quickly in the outer parts as they reach room temperature.
Frozen foods should be thawed in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave.