Avoid These Amateur Cooking Mistakes & You’ll Avoid An Urgent Care Visit
Tis the season of generosity and good cheer, but unfortunately, tis also the season for food poisoning. In November and December NY urgent care centers and ERs are flooded with people suffering from vomiting and diarrhea. That’s why this year our doctors took the time to interview some chef friends about proper storage, prep, and serving of large quantities of food.
“Most common food-borne illnesses are caused by Norovirus, salmonella and campylobacter,” says Leslie Miller MD, founder of Medhattan, an urgent care center in NY in lower Manhattan staffed by 15 Emergency Medicine doctors. “My food poisoning motto is, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Here are some tips to keep you and your loved ones out of the New York urgent care this holiday season.
- Store raw meat and poultry well-wrapped in the refrigerator to avoid cross contamination. This means no drippy packages on the shelf. If raw meats leak onto your surfaces, clean it up with a solution of diluted bleach.
- It’s not enough to wash your cutting board in between prepping turkey and chopping salad veggies. Put utensils exposed to raw meat through a hot cycle in your dishwasher, or simply use a different cutting board and knife.
- Paper towels are your friend. One square inch of cotton dishcloth can contain 10 million bacteria!
- Be sure to check expiration dates and cook meat or poultry not more than two days after purchasing it. Leftovers should be consumed within three days.
- If the meat is frozen, the safest way to defrost it is in the refrigerator, never on the counter. Allow 24 hours of in-fridge defrosting time for every four to five pounds of weight. Never cook directly from frozen meat.
- Proper cooking destroys bacteria. If you don’t own a meat thermometer, its time to get one.
- When serving buffet style, don’t leave food out for more than two hours because bacteria can double every 20 minutes.
- Be sure that reheated food is steaming hot. Reheat food only once, since lukewarm food creates an ideal environment for fast growing bacteria.
- Don’t overfill your refrigerator. Air must circulate to keep foods fresh.
If you incorporate and keep these tips in mind when cooking your holiday meals, you’ll avoid the potential to have a serious gastrointestinal illness, said Dr. Miller