Food Poisoning – How To Avoid Being A Victim

Food poisoning is something that is becoming more and more commonplace. Sadly, we are seeing more and more news items about salmonella, staphylococcus and similar harmful bacteria, and the havoc they can cause.

To say that encountering this complaint would spoil your whole day would be a gross understatement. In fact you’re likely to spend several days recovering from it. In extreme cases it can be fatal.

So is there any way to make sure you never succumb to food poisoning? Well, there may be no infallible approach, but you can certainly act in such a way that your chances of becoming a victim are drastically reduced.

Personal hygiene is a good starting point. This question is perhaps a trifle taboo, but I’m going to ask it anyway – do YOU wash your hands after going to the toilet? If you don’t, you will after reading this. This is to me the most basic and essential step in keeping even a reasonable level of personal cleanliness. Yet so many people neglect to do this. To me, that’s just asking for trouble sooner or later, and is in any event a betrayal of everyone else you come into contact with.

Who do you think really wants to share with you the myriad of germs and microbes that you have on your hands immediately after attending to the bodily functions that we all have to attend to several times a day? And you will share them with everyone who touches almost anything fairly soon after you’ve touched it, or with whom you shake hands. It’s the reason why most PC keyboards are as rife with germs as a toilet seat.

I still see people coming out of public lavatories without so much as a glance at the wash basins. Yet they’ve been in a place rife with both air borne and surface bound germs and microbes. The very smell of them broadcasts their nature. Until such people actually DO wash their hands everything they touch will be contaminated with the harmful bacteria and shigella that is without doubt increasing and multiplying on their hands.

For this reason I always wash my hands carefully every time I return home from a trip out, even if I’ve only been to the corner shop. It makes sense, doesn’t it?

If all the doctors and nurses, patients and visitors, hospital workers and porters and everyone else to be found in hospitals simply washed their hands after doing what we all have to do a few times a day, then all the so-called hospital super-bugs, the MRSA and everything else that we spend millions of pounds or dollars trying to fight each year, all of it would simply disappear.

However, don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

Always make a point of washing your hands thoroughly before preparing food. If the ingredients of the meal include meat, fish, fowl or eggs then wash after each time you’ve handled them.

The next point is to never eat raw food that comprises meat, fish, fowl, milk or eggs. Sea food is especially prone to harbour harmful bacteria, so be particularly careful when eating this. Wash all food under the cold tap before cooking or eating.

Above 65.5 or below 4.5. Those are the figures to remember concerning the temperatures in degrees Celsius or Centigrade in which bacteria cannot multiply. That’s why raw food has to be kept chilled until it is ready for cooking, when it should be heated to at least the temperature required to kill bacteria.

To be sure of this, meat should be cooked until there is no more pink left in it, fowl until none of the joints are red and fish should be flaking by the time it’s taken out of the oven.

If using a microwave oven you should use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. Keep meat gravy or juice away from other food. Use separate utensils, chopping board, etc for meat and other animal products on the one hand and everything else on the other. Wash them with bleach or lathered water afterwards. In fact wash the whole kitchen work top area regularly and always after preparing dishes containing animal products. Replace sponges regularly and use paper kitchen towels for wiping down.

Food that’s been left at room temperature for 2 hours or more can be contaminated, especially if it is high in protein, eg meat, eggs, chips.

Be careful when defrosting meat or poultry, as the surface will defreeze more quickly than the inside. Bacteria may therefore be growing on the outside by the time the inside is unfrozen. Defreeze it in the refrigerator to avoid this problem. If keeping anything for another meal, replace it in the refrigerator immediately. And never keep meat or poultry, or fish, above vegetables or other kinds of non-meat food in the refrigerator in case anything falls down to cause contamination.

Trust your instincts. If food doesn’t somehow look right then it usually isn’t. A quick test with your nose should detect any tell-tale smell of decay or contamination.

Finally, eat your food slowly, relish it and allow your body and digestive system ample time and optimum conditions for digesting it. Bon appetit!

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Personal Hygiene in Survival Situations

Can you imagine the inconvenience of not bathing regularly during a disaster or a period of strife? The nasty smell of body odor would be enough to drive even the most liberal thinking individual out of their mind. In normal everyday situations proper cleanliness is critical in fighting off various infections and disease and in the event of survival situations it becomes even more vital.

Improper hygiene can often reduce your opportunities for survival greatly by encouraging bacteria and germ growth. Although the best method towards fighting these infections would be by the use of daily shower of hot water and plenty of soap it is possible to stay clean and healthy without these luxuries. You could effectively use a washcloth and some soapy water to hand wash yourself while paying particular attention to certain critical spots on your body such as your feet, the armpits, the crotch, hair and hands especially. These areas are the prime locations for developing infection.

In the event that water is a rare commodity you can take what is known as the “air” bath. Remove all your clothing and expose your body to the heat of the sun and fresh air for 1 hour. Be especially careful that you do not develop sunburn.

If you lack soap the best substitute would be to use sand or ashes. If you are handy with crafts you could create some soap of your own by the use of animal fats and wood ash. To make soap in this manner:

Extract the grease from some old animal fat by merely cutting the fat into small sections and cooking it down in a pot. Add enough water to keep the fat from burning or sticking to the pot as it cooks. Cook this fat slowly over a low heat being certain to stir it frequently to prevent sticking. After you have rendered the fat you can pour the resulting grease into small containers to harden. Now place ashes into a container which has a spout located near the bottom. Pour some water over these ashes and proceed to collect the liquid which drips out from the spout in another container. The liquid which you are now collecting is known as the lye.

There is another means of collecting lye by pouring the slurry or mixture over the ashes and water combination and straining it through a cloth. In your cooking pot you should mix two parts of the grease to one part of the collected potash, than place this mixture over the fire and boiling it until it becomes very thick. The mixture is now soap and after it has cooled it can be used directly in the semi-liquid form or you can pour it into a shallow pan to harden and then slice it into small bars.

One of the major germ carrying conditions is dirty hand. These will be especially critical during emergency times as survivors do chores and manual tasks that they previously had not accomplished. These germs that take refuge upon your hands will quickly infect your food and any wounds which you may have. Be sure that you wash your hands often after handling types of material which can carry germs. These include using the latrine, caring for the ill or sick and prior to handling any food.

Copyright @2010 Joseph Parish

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