How to avoid food poisoning with good food safety practices

Hosting at home, especially outdoors when the weather is right, is one of the joys of homeownership. Many people look forward to sharing food and fun with family and friends.

Without good food safety practices, you may be putting yourself in a precarious position. If you contract food poisoning at someone’s home, they could be liable for your medical bills and more.

What causes food poisoning?

Harmful bacteria that grow when food is not safely prepared and stored lead to food poisoning. According to the CDC, 48 million Americans get food poisoning every year. Of those, 128,000 require hospitalization and 3,000 die.

What safety precautions should the host take?

Although the risk of food poisoning is real, there are precautions a host can take to ensure guests stay healthy:

  • Avoid mayonnaise-based salads. Mayonnaise is often made with unpasteurized eggs and is susceptible to bacteria growth.
  • Keep foods at their proper temperature. For food eaten hot, serve in heated dishes. For food eaten cold, use an ice bath to keep the chill. Generally, do not serve food in the dangerous temperature range of 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Keep raw and cooked foods separate. Cross-contamination from raw meat can cause cooked food to grow bacteria.
  • Avoid sharing. Individually wrapped treats and single servings are best, along with separate drink, utensil and serving stations.
  • Serve food for a short period of time. The longer a host leaves food out, the more unsafe it becomes. Limit meal time to no more than two hours.

By ensuring your host is following these safety tips, you can reduce the risk of getting sick.

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