Effective ways to prevent foodborne illness in Illinois

Illinois homeowners who plan on throwing a party and serving their own food should know how to prevent foodborne illnesses.

Food is meant to be enjoyed and shared, but sometimes food can become contaminated and lead to both minor and serious illnesses. Residents of Illinois who have upcoming gatherings or parties with friends and family and plan on serving food they have prepared should be sure they take steps to prevent foodborne illnesses, which might result in a lawsuit if the situation is severe enough.

Purchase and store food safely

When buying food, pay close attention to the packaging to make sure it is not ripped, leaking, punctured or anything else that might leave it exposed to bacteria and germs that can make a person sick. It is also best to determine the food's expiration date and match that up with the date of the party to make sure it will still be good on that day. When buying poultry, raw meat and fish, it is best to keep them in their own bag in case any juice leaks out.

Prepare food the right way

Thoroughly wash hands with warm water and soap before handling any type of food. Cover skin infections, recent wounds or abrasions with gloves before handling food. When preparing meat and vegetables, use two separate cutting boards for each, and neither should come in contact with the other. Additionally, all surfaces that came in contact with raw meat should be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. If a food thermometer is needed, clean the probe with hot soapy water before every use.

Serve food safely

Clean dishes and clean utensils are essential when serving food. Cooked food can easily become contaminated if served on the same dish used to prepare raw product, and the same applies to utensils used to handle raw meat, fish and poultry.

Store food correctly

Take safety precautions after the gathering when guests have consumed food. Leftovers should be put in containers and stored in the refrigerator as soon as possible, and the refrigerator should be kept at a safe and comfortable temperature of 40 to 45 degrees. Leftover food should also be reheated to the proper temperature not only for safety concerns, but for general taste.

Know how to dispose of food

Any food that is contaminated or is simply too old should be properly disposed of. Spoiled food should be placed in a plastic bag to keep it from smelling and either thrown in the trash or buried in the ground where it can decompose naturally. Putting food down the garbage disposal or in a compost bin are additional options for safely disposing of food in a way that is also environmentally friendly.

Even with the most exacting standards, there is no guarantee that food guests eat in Illinois will never have foodborne illnesses. Contact an attorney who specializes in personal injury cases if a guest files a lawsuit after a party or gathering.