By: James Hixon, M.D., Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology
We are definitely experiencing an unseasonably hot and humid summer this year, and with temperatures in the mid-90′s and upwards, there are more opportunities for food spoilage than ever before.
It is easy to forget how a simple trip to the grocery store and back home can cause meat or chilled deli products to go bad. Microorganisms can multiply between 40 and 140 degrees and spoil food that are unintentionally left out.
As a gastroenterologist, I see patients that experience symptoms of food-borne illness like vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea. These symptoms are not pleasant and patients often overlook food-borne illness as a possible culprit. E. coli, a bacteria that causes common food-borne illnesses, can be life-threatening to young children and the elderly that have weak immune systems.
Here are some simple precautions to avoid food-borne illnesses:
- Cook your food adequately and at the recommended temperatures.
- Clean vegetables and fruits thoroughly under cold water. Try a little distilled white vinegar in a mixture of cold water as a rinsing agent for your veggies and fruits.
- Cleaning also applies to washing your hands and utensils with soap and warm water after preparing food to avoid cross contamination.
- If you are outdoors, maintain food in a cool and constant temperature. Keep food chilled in coolers and consume them as soon as possible. If you are handling raw meat at home, cook, refrigerate or freeze them for later consumption. Do let let it lay out on the counter.
James S. Hixon, M.D. is board certified in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology. Dr. Hixon has a thriving private practice in gastroenterology and is the Chief of Staff at a regional hospital. He has participated in training programs with Herbert Benson, M.D. at the Harvard Mind-Body Institute, Dean Ornish, M.D. at the Preventive Medicine Institute and Rachael Remen, M.D. at the Center for Prevention of Disease and Illness and other integrative and complementary medical research groups.