How to avoid food poisoning: The risk is relatively rare, but if you’re feeding little kids, the elderly, or anyone with a compromised immune system, cook the egg thoroughly to kill off any dangerous bacteria. Opt for hard-boiled, thoroughly scrambled, or over-well eggs. Another option, says Francisco Diez-Gonzalez, PhD, professor and director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia in Griffin, is pasteurized eggs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has created Ask Karen, a service that allows you to submit questions about eggs, meat, and poultry and get a response any time of the day or night.
How to avoid food poisoning: Bacteria can double every 20 minutes at room temperature; keep your food out of the danger zone—between 40 °F and 140 °F—until you’re ready to eat it. If you left the chicken on your counter for more than two hours, you’re best off throwing it out.
“Cut up the rotisserie chicken in pieces so they cool quickly to a safe temperature,” says Marianne H. Gravely, senior technical information specialist at the Food Safety and Inspection Service at the USDA.
If you’re cooking your own roasted chicken, don’t wash it—you’ll only spread germs. Instead, focus on cooking it to the right temperature. According to the USDA Meat and Poultry Roasting Chart, the bird should be cooked until the internal temperature is 165° F, which amounts to about 20 to 30 minutes per pound (with an additional 15 to 30 minutes if it’s stuffed) at 350° F. Here’s how to tell the difference between a stomach bug and food poisoning.
How to avoid poisoning: Be wary of recipes and menu items that recommend preparing the delicacy “lightly sautéed.” The livers should reach an internal temperature of 165° F and have a crumbly texture.
How to avoid food poisoning: A food thermometer is a must. Ground beef and pork must be cooked to at least 160° F. Ground turkey—which is particularly tricky because it looks less pink even it’s raw state—and chicken should be cooked for 165° F, according to the USDA’s Safe Minimum Cooking Temperature Guidelines. Don’t miss these other common summer BBQ foods that can cause food poisoning, too.
How to avoid food poisoning: Order fish only in reputable restaurants. When you cook your own, bring the fish into the refrigerator as quickly as possible (so when grocery shopping, pick up the fish last, stick it into a cooler in your car, and go directly home). Raw fish should be cooked to 145 °F. Leftovers should be reheated to 165 °F and eaten within two days. Find out the other types of fish you should never order in a restaurant.
Leafy green salads
Leafy greens are particularly tricky because they’re eaten as salads and not cooked—so proper washing is essential. After all, farms are not pristine: potential pathogens are everywhere, including in bird poop, fertilizer, ticks, tainted water, or as the result of poor hygiene.
How to avoid food poisoning: Some bacteria can stick to the lettuce and even get into it, says Dr. Griffin So washing won’t guarantee a bacteria-free leaf, but it can knock off dirt and reduce the risk of germs. Place the odds in your favor by buying greens that are in the best possible shape. “Look for leaves that are firm and crisp,” says New York City nutrition coach Maria Marlowe, author of The Real Food Grocery Guide and founder of eatSlim and eatBeauty. For packaged lettuce, avoid the slightest sign of sliminess—”bacteria can spread quickly,” she says. For fresh herbs, she says, “make sure the leaves are firmly attached to the stem and have no sign of brown or black spots.” Finally, triple-wash your lettuce before consuming. “Don’t just rinse under cold water, ” she says, “but fill a large bowl with cold water, tear the leaves into the bowl, submerge and swirl with your hands for a minute or two, then lift the leaves into a strainer and dump the water.” Repeat twice more, then wipe or spin dry.
How to prevent food poisoning: As of yet, there’s no 100-percent foolproof way for rendering sprouts pathogen-free. Your safest bet is to cook them before eating them, or skipping them altogether. Don’t miss these 10 food poisoning myths you can safely ignore.
How to avoid food poisoning: Purchase your potato salad at a clean, reputable place, keep it chilled, and consume it within three days.
How to avoid food poisoning: “Don’t just rinse your cantaloupe, scrub it down and wipe it dry before you cut it open,” says Dr. Diez-Gonzalez. And after you slice it up, store the melon in the fridge and plan to polish it off within three days (or toss the rest). For more food safety strategies, download the Foodkeeper app created by the USDA, Cornell University, and The Food Marketing Institute. Follow these 8 rules this summer to avoid nasty food poisoning.
How to avoid food poisoning: While healthy adults can fight off the illness, kids, the elderly, and anyone with a weakened immune system may not. To be safe, ask if the juice has been treated for safety, says Dr. Griffin. If not, head to the supermarket and look for a carton that indicates the juice has been pasteurized.
How to avoid food poisoning: Always wash your hands after working with flour (that includes flour used for preparing tortilla and pizza dough).
How to avoid food poisoning: Be sure to scrub cucumbers with water and a produce brush whether you’re eating the peel or not. Wipe them dry and trim the bruises before you slice and serve. Check out the 7 foods that food safety experts always avoid.
Red kidney beans
How to avoid food poisoning: Don’t just soak your red kidney beans. Cook them in boiling water for a good half hour, advises the FDA’s Bad Bug Book. Slow cookers won’t work because the temperature never gets high enough. Or you can play it safe by using canned kidney beans.
Cream-filled pastries and pies
How to avoid food poisoning: If a cream puff craving hits, make sure you’re buying from a reputable, clean place that’s regularly inspected and certified, says Dr. Diez-Gonzalez. Next, don’t miss the 9 disgusting things you didn’t realize you’re eating.