The Vancouver Province recently conducted the following nutrition know-how Q&A:
Q: What are some basic steps to reduce the risk for food poisoning?
A: There are some simple steps you can take to help minimize the risk for food poisoning. Always read the labels for proper food storage and cooking instructions. Cook the food well so it reaches the appropriate internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites. After cooking limit the time the food sits at room temperature. Foods should never be kept out of the oven or refrigerator for more than two hours. Defrost foods in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave.
Not all harmful bacteria are killed after cooking and can multiply when the food is re-heated or cooling. Re-heating to at least 165 degrees F will help to keep bacteria at bay.
Wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly, especially if served raw, since they can also cause food-borne illness. Thorough hand-washing and cleaning of countertops, cutting utensils and cutting boards are critical to prevent accidental contamination of ready-to-eat foods with surfaces that have been in contact with raw food.
‘If in doubt, throw it out!’ It is better to be on the safe side than sick from food poisoning.