South West Georgia Public Health

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Eat healthy protect family from food poisoning

The Basics: Overview

Food poisoning (or foodborne illness) happens when you get sick from eating or drinking something that has harmful germs in it – like bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Two common causes of food poisoning are E. coli and Salmonella.

Following good habits like these can help protect you and your family from food poisoning:

Buy food from stores that look and smell clean.
Don’t buy food past “sell by,” “use by,” or other expiration dates.
Wash your hands often with warm water and soap – especially before and after touching food.
Make sure food is cooked to a safe temperature.
Keep raw meat and seafood away from cooked and ready-to-eat food.
Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. This helps prevent bacteria from growing.

What causes food poisoning?

You can get food poisoning from eating bad (contaminated) food. Bacteria are the most common cause of food poisoning. Bacteria can get into food in severals ways.

Raw meat, poultry (like chicken and turkey), fish, vegetables, and fruit may pick up bacteria where they are grown or packaged.
Foods can also pick up bacteria at the store or in the kitchen. This usually happens when food that needs to be kept cold is left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

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