National Poison Prevention Week is March 19-25: What you need to know

How to keep your home safe from harmful contaminants.

When I think of poison prevention, my mind naturally goes to cleaning chemicals, bug sprays and snake/insect bites. Chemicals we use can be a risk in the kitchen and should be stored away from foods and spaces reserved for food preparation. There are however, other ways many of us get poisoned each year. National Poison Prevention Week is here to remind us of that, and educate us on how to stay safe!

Food can be a vehicle for poison. To avoid food borne illnesses, Michigan State University Extension recommends that you:

  • Wash your hands before preparing any food for 15 to 20 seconds using soap.
  • Wash and sanitize food preparation surfaces before preparation – Use a food safe sanitizer and let it air dry so it doesn’t become contaminated. Never towel dry, as that can re-contaminate your surfaces.
  • Always use clean utensils – Use separate utensils for raw meats than you do with raw fruits and vegetables.
  • Keep your refrigerator at or below 41 degrees Fahrenheit to keep bacteria from growing.
  • Your freezer temperature should be at 0 F or lower.
  • Hot foods need to be cooked to the correct minimum internal temperatures and kept hot after cooking.

Temperatures are very important for keeping food safe. The Temperature Danger Zone needs to be avoided. When food is kept between 40 F and 140 F, bacteria grows to unsafe levels. Although you cannot see, smell or taste bacteria, it can quickly grow to unsafe levels and cause foodborne illness, or food poisoning.

Another way to be poisoned in the kitchen is by eating foods that contain poison, or using items in the kitchen that are unsafe. Make sure your source of mushrooms and other foraged foods is reliable. Some plants are very toxic and can be mistaken for those that are safe to eat.

Check to be sure any cookware or pottery you use is food safe. For example, a non-stick surface that is breaking apart should be thrown away before the surface becomes part of your entree and a chemical contaminate. Equipment made from pewter, copper, galvanized metal and some painted pottery may be at risk for being a chemical contaminate as well. Tomatoes and other acidic foods should not be prepared in copper and painted pottery has a risk of lead poisoning.

Symptoms of poison ingestion include vomiting and diarrhea. If you believe someone has been poisoned, call the Poison Control Number, 1-800-222-1222. They should be able to tell you what to do. Post the number by your phone for easy access.

If you would like more information about food safety, contact your local MSU Extension office or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3463).

Did you find this article useful?

You Might Also Be Interested In