Summer is upon is and backyard parties, barbecues, and picnics are in full swing.
Unfortunately, so are foodborne illnesses.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), each year about 1 in 6 Americans gets hit with a foodborne illness like E. coli, campylobacter or salmonella.
Foodborne illnesses are responsible for at least 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths in the US annually, although experts believe those estimates are very low because of unreported cases.
Illness-causing pathogens are now appearing more and more on fresh produce due in part to the global import network–there are now more “middle men” and a wide range of handling practices in the mix which opens up the door to more contamination.
But far and away the biggest culprit continues to be meat, especially poultry. Experts estimate that nearly 75 percent of all commercial poultry purchased has some form of contamination!
Getting intimate with your toilet
Symptoms of foodborne illness usually start within 48 hours and include nausea, vomiting, cramping and diarrhea. Fever and chills, bloody stools, dehydration and nervous system damage may also follow.
Foodborne illness is tricky because you can’t see the bacteria on the food, nor can you taste it most times…your first sign that something is wrong is when you’re rocketing to the bathroom.
In addition to the obvious making sure that all meats and poultry are cooked thoroughly, here are some ways that you can help prevent foodborne illness:
1) Wash thoroughly
It’s essential to wash all fresh produce thoroughly, no matter where it’s from.
For greens, soak them in a cold water bath, then drain and hold them under running water for a moment.
For other fruits and vegetables the following general rules apply:
- Berries: Rinse in cold water in a strainer.
- Fruits and vegetables where you’re eating the skin (like grapes, green and yellow squash and tomatoes): Wash and rinse thoroughly. Produce washes are helpful, but mild dish soap works fine.
- Fruits and vegetables that you peel (including carrots and parsnips): Peel then rinse quickly.
- Fruits and vegetables that you trim (like green beans, asparagus, and broccoli): Rinse thoroughly in cold water in a strainer before trimming AND after.
- Fruits and vegetables that you cut (like melons, citrus fruit or avocados): Wash and rinse thoroughly BEFORE cutting. Bacteria can adhere to the skin and be transferred to the flesh when you cut it open.
2) Check dates
Check expiration dates on meats and eggs before purchasing–just because an item is on the store shelf does NOT mean it’s fresh!
3) Watch juices
Don’t let juices or drippings from raw meat, poultry, shellfish or eggs come into contact with other foods.
Wash cutting boards, knives and other utensils in hot soapy water after handling raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs.
4) Keep food hot or cold
Keep hot food hot (temperatures between 160 degrees to 212 degrees Fahrenheit destroy most bacteria) and cold food cold (40 degrees Fahrenheit).
Promptly refrigerate leftovers. Leftovers should not stay out of the refrigerator for longer than two hours.
5) Grab a clean towel
Wash dishcloths and kitchen towels regularly and grab a fresh one as soon as the one you’re using starts to feel damp. Dirty, damp cloths are the perfect place for bacteria to breed.
6) This one should be obvious but…
Proper hand-washing can eliminate as many as half of all cases of food poisoning, and can even significantly reduce the spread of the common cold and flu.
Your body’s two defenses
Your body was also designed with two natural defenses against food poisoning built right in:
1. The acid in your stomach destroys many disease-causing pathogens before they can wreak havoc with you and
2. The friendly flora in your intestines can inhibit the growth of many food borne pathogens, including Salmonella, Shigella, Enterococcus faecalis and E. coli.
The problem is many people are lacking the protection of their stomach acid because they take acid reducers, and still others have practically obliterated their friendly gut flora with medications, sugars and refined carbs and sodas!
So to ensure your body’s defenses can protect you, you need to make sure they are able to work like they should.
1- Make the stomach’s job easier
To help naturally curb heartburn and acid reflux, make your meals simpler and easier for your body to digest in the first place.
Avoid eating proteins and starches together in the same meal. Instead pair meats OR starches with vegetables and salads. These combinations are much easier for your body to tackle, and make it far less likely that you will suffer heartburn and need acid reducers, to begin with.
Plus you’ll likely experience much less gas, bloating and constipation too.
2- Support your friendly gut flora
The best way to ensure a healthy, robust population of protective beneficial bacteria in your gut is to take a probiotic supplement like Super Shield multi-strain probiotic formula.
Even if you have a stellar diet, many other factors like stress, lacking sleep, medications, tap water and toxins in the environment can harm your intestinal flora…so probiotic supplementation is truly the only way to support a consistent, healthy flora balance.
Enjoy the rest of the summer barbecue season—safely and free of food borne illness!