Food Safety Facts
Knowing How to Properly Handle and Prepare Food Can Help You Avoid Foodborne Illnesses and Stay on Good Terms With Your Digestive System
Did you know that there are about 11 million cases of foodborne illnesses in Canada every year? People with HIV can be particularly at risk, so read on to see how you can avoid being one of these cases.
Food Safety 101 -- A Crash Course
Foodborne illness, sometimes called food poisoning, happens when you eat food contaminated with disease-causing germs, such as bacteria, viruses and parasites.
Symptoms of foodborne illness include stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache and fever.
Depending on the type of germ you ate, you could start feeling sick a few hours after consuming contaminated food, or even a few days or weeks later! People often think it's the last thing they ate, but this is not always true.
If you have a weakened immune system for whatever reason -- HIV or alcoholism, cancer, diabetes or organ transplantation -- it can be more difficult for you to fight off infections. To reduce your risk of getting a foodborne illness, it's important to take extra care when handling, storing, preparing and shopping for food.
Some food can be more risky because of the way it is produced and the conditions and length of time it is stored. You can reduce your risk by avoiding certain foods, such as sushi or unpasteurized dairy products, and by choosing safer alternatives, such as fully cooked fish or pasteurized diary products.
Follow the Food Safety Steps
Following the four key steps to food safety is the best way to protect yourself from foodborne illness:
Check out www.healthycanadians.ca for lots of useful info on safe food handling at home and in the grocery store. The site features a Select the Safer Alternative chart, which offers many safer options to common foods that can be riskier for people with weakened immune systems, and a Safe Cooking Internal Temperature chart, which lists the safe internal temperatures for meats and egg dishes.
You can also call Health Canada toll-free at 1.866.225.0709 or TTY at 1.800.276.1245.
This article was provided by Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange. It is a part of the publication The Positive Side. Visit CATIE's Web site to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
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