Unpasteurised milk, raw salads and partially cooked meat are prime breeding grounds for bacteria

Food poisoning is a common hazard in India. Hot weather, poor hygiene and lack of running water are responsible for most cases. Diarrhoeal diseases resulting from germs in food kill thousands every year. It is not very difficult to ensure safety of food. Here are a few tips to prevent food poisoning.

Beware of uncooked foods. Unpasteurised milk and fruit juice, raw salads and partially cooked meat and eggs are prime breeding grounds for bacteria. Raw milk can cause brucellosis and tuberculosis, among many other diseases. Raw eggs can harbour salmonella.

Wash salad vegetables and fruit thoroughly under running water. Children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with weak immune systems should avoid eating raw foods other than thoroughly washed fresh fruit.

Cleanliness will prevent most cases of food poisoning. Clean hands, clean surface (for preparing food) and clean utensils are very important.

Wash hands with soap before and after handling food.

Wash utensils, knives and cutting boards with hot soapy water after preparing raw meat, poultry, fish, shellfish and eggs. Cook food thoroughly. Pressure-cooking is best. The temperature of the core is vital; a partially cooked core, especially in meat and eggs, can harbour harmful germs.

Refrigerate perishable foods within one hour of purchase or preparation. Poultry, ground meat, fish and shell fish require freezing if you intend to eat them after two days.

Wrap meat in a tight plastic cover and store it away from other foods in the freezer.

Lamb, pork and beef can stay safely in the chiller at 4 degree Celsius for three days. Freeze if the anticipated delay is longer.

While defrosting meat, ensure the juices do not drip on other foods.

Avoid eating cooked food that was at room temperature for more than an hour.

Curd rice is an exception.