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10 Deadly Bacteria That Can Get In Your Food (And How To Stop Them From Getting There)

Thousands of types of bacteria are naturally present in ourenvironment. Not all bacteria cause disease in humans (forexample, some bacteria are used beneficially in makingcheese and yogurt). However, the prime causes of food-borneillness include parasites, viruses, and bacteria such as:

1. E. coli O157:H7

2. Campylobacter jejuni

3. Salmonella

4. Staphylococcus aureus

5. Listeria monocytogenes

6. Clostridium perfringens

7. Vibrio parahaemolyticus

8. Vibrio vulnificus

9. Hepatitis A virus, and

10. Norwalk and Norwalk-like virus

Bacteria that cause disease are called pathogens. Theseorganisms can become unwelcome guests at the dinner table.When certain pathogens enter the food supply, they can causefood-borne illness. They're in a wide range of foods,including meat, milk and other dairy products, spices,chocolate, seafood, and even water. Millions of cases offood-borne illness occur each year.

Most cases of food-borne illness can be prevented. Carelessfood handling sets the stage for the growth of disease-causing "bugs." For example, hot or cold foods left standingtoo long at room temperature provide an ideal climate forbacteria to grow. Proper cooking or processing of fooddestroys bacteria.

Fresh does not always mean safe. The organisms that causefood poisoning aren't the ones that cause spoilage. Waxoften coats certain kinds of produce, such as apples andcucumbers, and may trap pesticides. To remove the wax, washwith very diluted dish detergent and a soft scrub brush, orpeel (the best nutrients are often in the peel, however).

Foods may be cross contaminated when cutting boards andkitchen tools that have been used to prepare a contaminatedfood, such as raw chicken, aren't cleaned before being usedfor another food, such as vegetables.

How Bacteria Get In Food

Bacteria may be present on products when you buy them.Plastic-wrapped boneless chicken and ground meat, forexample, were once part of live chicken or cattle. Raw meat,poultry, seafood, and eggs aren't sterile. Neither is freshproduce such as lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, and melons.Foods, including safely cooked, ready-to-eat foods, canbecome cross contaminated with bacteria transferred from rawproducts, meat juices or other contaminated products, orfrom food handlers with poor personal hygiene.

Unpasteurized fruit and vegetable juices and ciders, foodsmade with raw or undercooked eggs, chicken, tuna, potato andmacaroni salads, and cream-filled pastries harboring thesepathogens have also been implicated in food-borne illnesses,as has fresh produce.

Poultry is the food most often contaminated with disease-causing organisms. It's been estimated that 60 percent ormore of raw poultry sold at retail probably carries somedisease-causing bacteria.

Bacteria such as Listeria monocytogenes, Vibrio vulnificus,Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Salmonella have been found inraw seafood. Oysters, clams, mussels, scallops, and cocklesmay be contaminated with hepatitis A virus.

If you have a health problem, especially one that may haveimpaired your immune system, don't eat raw shellfish and useonly pasteurized milk and cheese, and pasteurized orconcentrated ciders and juices.

Keep It Clean

The cardinal rule of safe food preparation in the home is:Keep everything clean.

The cleanliness rule applies to the areas where food isprepared and, most importantly, to the cook. Wash hands withwarm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before startingto prepare a meal and after handling raw meat or poultry.Cover long hair with a net or scarf, and be sure that anyopen sores or cuts on the hands are completely covered. Ifthe sore or cut is infected, stay out of the kitchen.

Keep your work area clean and uncluttered. Be sure to washthe countertops with a solution of 1 teaspoon chlorinebleach to about 1 quart of water or with a commercialkitchen-cleaning agent diluted according to productdirections. They're the most effective at getting rid ofbacteria.

Also, be sure to keep dishcloths and sponges clean because,when wet, these materials harbor bacteria and may promotetheir growth. Wash dishcloths and sponges weekly in thewashing machine in hot water.

While you're at it, sanitize the kitchen sink drainperiodically by pouring down the sink a solution of oneteaspoon bleach to one quart of water or a commercialcleaning agent. Food particles get trapped in the drain anddisposal and, along with moistness, create an idealenvironment for bacterial growth.

Use smooth cutting boards made of hard maple or plastic andfree of cracks and crevices. Avoid boards made of soft,porous materials. Wash cutting boards with hot water, soap,and a scrub brush. Then, sanitize them in an automaticdishwasher or by rinsing with a solution of 1 teaspoonchlorine bleach to about 1 quart of water.

Always wash and sanitize cutting boards after using them forraw foods, such as seafood or chicken, and before using themfor other foods. Consider using one cutting board only forfoods that will be cooked, such as raw fish, and anotheronly for ready-to-eat foods, such as bread, fresh fruit, andcooked fish. Visit The Cutting Board Factory for a greatselection of food-safe cutting boards.

Always use clean utensils and wash them between cuttingdifferent foods.

Wash the lids of canned foods before opening to keep dirtfrom getting into the food. Also, clean the blade of the canopener after each use. Food processors and meat grindersshould be taken apart and cleaned as soon as possible afterthey're used.

Don't put cooked meat on an unwashed plate or platter thathas held raw meat.

Wash fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly, rinsing in warmwater. Don't use soap or other detergents. If necessary (andappropriate) use a small scrub brush to remove surface dirt.

Keep your kitchen clean and bacteria-free. Clean kitchensurfaces with hot soapy water using antibacterial spongesand soaps.

The sponges themselves should be bacteria-free. Microwavethem for about a minute to keep them clean and dry.

Keep benches, cutting boards, knives, pans or other utensilsclean.

Terry Nicholls
My Home-Based Business Advisor

Copyright by Terry Nicholls. All Rights Reserved.

About The Author

Terry Nicholls is the author of the eBook "Food Safety: Protecting Your Family From Food Poisoning". In addition, he writes from his own experiences in trying to start his own home-based business. To benefit from his success, visit My Home-Based Business Advisor - Helping YOUR Home Business Start and Succeed for free help for YOUR home business, including ideas, startup, and expansion advice.


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