Food poisoning can be especially hard for pregnant mothers as it is a frequent cause of a host of painful symptoms. These include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, dizziness and more. While most simple cases will resolve on their own in just a few days’ time, you may still need medical care to prevent dehydration. In very rare cases, food poisoning can turn into infections that are quite dangerous because they can lead to sepsis, which could harm your unborn baby.
Many times infections caused by salmonella, E.coli and other common strains of bacteria are often the result of unsafe food handling practices. Use these food preparation and storage tips to reduce your risk of food poisoning.
Wash Your Hands
Since many folks already know that they need to wash their fresh produce before preparing it to eat, some automatically assume that it is not necessary to also wash their hands first. This is a common myth that can very easily lead to food poisoning.
So, be certain to wash your hands first, with warm, soapy water and rinse well. If your hands are especially dirty, use a nailbrush to get underneath your fingernails where germs may be hiding. When you are done, don’t forget to dry your hands well before you handle produce or other foods.
Wash and Disinfect Counter Tops and Chopping Boards before Use
A surprising number of people will forget to clean their counter tops, chopping boards or other food preparation surfaces before they place produce or other easily contaminated food ingredients upon it. Don’t forget to clean your knives and other utensils before preparing your food as well.
Once these surfaces have been washed in warm, soapy water, be certain that you allow them to dry completely before you use them. Also, take care to not place raw produce on the same cutting board or other surface where you’ve been preparing raw meat or other ingredients.
Wash, Dry and Store Your Produce the Correct Way
Ideally, you will only wash your produce just before you will prepare it to eat. If your produce is solid with a thick skin, wash it with cool water and a firm vegetable brush to get rid of pathogens.
For green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, kale, and spinach, rinse just before eating. If you must store them, allow them to dry completely before placing them in a storage container or crisper. Otherwise, moisture retained by the leaves can condense and pool in the bottom, and provide a rich environment for any remaining bacteria to grow.
If you do eat lettuce and other greens that are prepackaged, it’s okay to rinse them right before you eat them. Using acidic dressings on your salad, that are lemon or vinegar based, can also cut down on very small traces of bacteria you may have missed.
Don’t Forget to Remove Blemishes from Fruit and Vegetables
In general, it’s best to avoid fruits and vegetables that are overripe, as they are more likely to spoil quickly. If you do see any small soft spots or blemishes when you are preparing your produce to eat, don’t forget to use a clean paring knife to trim away these imperfections.
Keep Prepared Foods at the Proper Temperature for the Correct Amount of Time
Be certain to cook foods to the correct temperature, and don’t forget to store any leftovers promptly in your refrigerator. This is especially true of foods that contain eggs, milk, cream and other dairy products, as they are more prone to spoilage when left out.
You may also want to avoid overly rare cuts of meat, as well as raw and undercooked eggs when you are pregnant, as there is some risk that these ingredients can easily become contaminated with salmonella.
Pasteurization removes many of the safety hazards from eggs and dairy products, so you may want to avoid products that have not been through this process while you are expecting.
Gastrointestinal complaints such as feeling sick to your stomach are not fun for anyone, but they can be especially trying for women while they are pregnant. Following these safe food preparation and storage practices can help you avoid salmonella and other causes of common food poisoning.