Few experiences are as unpleasant as food poisoning. Contaminated food leads to food poisoning, an illness that can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. Fortunately, avoiding contaminated food is fairly straightforward. Here are steps to keep you on the path to happy meals:

Cook Meat Properly: The contaminants that cause food poisoning are common in raw red meat and poultry. Properly cooking meat will kill off the germs. Poultry should be 165°F, ground beef 160°F, and larger pieces of beef or pork 145°F. If in doubt, you can always cook it beyond these minimums.

Clean Up Quickly: After you cook raw meat, especially chicken, you have to be careful. Contaminants from meat live on after the meat has left the cutting board, utensils, countertops, and any other items the meat or its runoff has touched.

Before preparing more food after working with meat, you should thoroughly wash cutting boards and knives before cutting other food or storing them. Switch your cutting board and knife if you don’t have to clean them. Some cooks have one cutting board for meats and one for other foods. Always clean your area, and especially your hands, after handling raw meat. Some cooks prepare meat with the dishwasher open. Cutting boards and knives can be stowed in there without sitting in the sink and contaminating it or having the machine’s handle being covered in germs.

Store Meat at the Right Place: Store raw meat below other foods in your fridge. Liquids from them won’t drip onto other foods, reducing the risk of cross-contamination.

Know the Danger Zone: Meat should be eaten cold or hot. Its “danger zone” is between 40 and 140°F. In this range, harmful bacteria can grow quickly, making meat dangerous to consume.

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