How to Lower Your Chances of Food Poisoning

1:54 PM

There's a bit of panic in the air at the wake of deaths involving milk tea. A few days later, the trail has gone cold.

Some said they would refrain from consuming milk tea for the time being, and some have rallied to the beloved drink's defense.

What frustrates me the most is that the lack of information fuels hearsay and tends to drown real information.

While it is perfectly alright to speculate and have your own theories, it's best to demand the truth. Ask for more information, more tests. 

Like how the blog name implies, I'm no expert, but I did have a HACCP training in my heyday. Yes, it feels THAT long ago, which is why I encourage you, my dear reader, to take it with a grain of salt---the same way you shouldn't believe everything you read online without further research.

Wikipedia defines Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point as

"a systematic preventive approach to food safety from biological, chemical, and physical hazards in production processes that can cause the finished product to be unsafe, and designs measurements to reduce these risks to a safe level. In this manner, HACCP is referred as the prevention of hazards rather than finished product inspection. The HACCP system can be used at all stages of a food chain, from food production and preparation processes including packaging, distribution, etc."

(My journalism prof would be cringing now. Hi!:D )

In a nutshell, it means taking certain approaches to minimize the risk of food poisoning and prolonging your food's tummy-friendly status.

So whether you cook or eat, these tips might help in avoiding food poisoning.

Do not cross-contaminate.

Do you know how to get salmonella in fresh vegetables? Use the same knife you used for your raw chicken.
Invest in separate chopping boards for fresh meat, vegetables, and dry ingredients. But let's be real, sometimes, we just don't have that luxury. When having more than one board is not possible, chop your dry items first, and your meat last.

Extreme temperatures are not bacteria-friendly.

Here, have a snowman because it's too f-in hot outside.

High heat kills most bacteria, and cold temp prevents bacteria growth. The temperature in between is called the Danger Zone (Yay! more Wiki!), where bacteria populate like crazy.

Boil your tap water more than two minutes, and cook your meat thoroughly.
You CAN put hot food in the fridge, BUT This lowers the overall temperature of your fridge, exposing the rest of the items in there to the danger zone. The key to quickly cooling large batches of food is segregating them into small portions. That way you won't also need to thaw everything when you're ready to eat.

The best time to eat street food is when it is freshly made

I can't always afford expensive food, it isn't healthy to eat fast food frequently, and I don't always have the luxury of preparing homemade meals. That and I love street food, 'nuff excuses. So to minimize the risk, it's best to look for just-cooked items, avoid food carts that do not cover their goods, and are placed in highly polluted areas. *sigh* 

Also, the best time to eat out is in the morning - mid afternoon, when the ingredients are still fresh, in the evenings, all you'll get are leftovers that have been sitting there all day. The same applies to some restaurants.

Use your senses

Sight, smell, and touch are only secondary means of identifying food that has gone to the dark side but are still fairly reliable.

When in doubt, throw it.

Yes, we have a lot of wasted food. Trying to consume sketchy food isn't going to help it. What will is not buying more than what you need. TL;DR Don't horde (perishable) food.

Even with all those precautions in place, food poisoning can still happen, but having certain precautions in place ensures you are not dining on a petri dish.

Real good chefs out there follow rigid rules just to make sure your food arrives delicious while allowing you to tell the tale. Cheers to you!

So I ask you, my dear reader, before you campaign for or against milk tea, let's get our facts together. Ask for answers. It pays to be vigilant.

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