Food poisoning can happen to everyone, but it can usually be avoided if you take certain
precautions. Undercooking meat can mean that harmful bacteria will proliferate in the meat or
poultry and as salmonella and E. coli are prevalent it is best to take the advice of the world's food
First of all when you are shopping you should keep raw meats separate from vegetables and
ready-cooked meats such as frankfurters, slices of ham and turkey breasts. You want to avoid the
possibilities of cross-contamination as much as humanly possible.
Make sure that your fridge is set to below 40º F or 5ºC, as bacteria flourish between 40º and 140º
F. Make sure that you store your meat separately in the fridge too and reserve a chopping board
which is only used for meats. Keep this bacteria-free by rubbing it with lemon juice, as this has
good anti-bacterial properties.
You may need to purchase a food thermometer, as this is the only way to tell if your roast has
reached the desired internal temperature which is generally 165º F (74ºC) for poultry, whether
ground or whole pieces, and for leftovers and casseroles. For steaks, roasts and chops (beef or
veal) the internal temperature of the meat should be 145º F
(63ºC ) and this temperature is also applicable for precooked ham to reheat it, as well as for fresh
pork and ham, which should be left to rest for 3 minutes before slicing. These are the safest
minimum temperatures, higher is fine.
You should not wash raw meat before preparing, as this can increase the danger of cross-
contamination as bacteria will spread onto chopping boards, knives, and other kitchen utensils
and counters from the meat; it may also spread to ready-to-eat foods.
Pork has its own special problems as often parasites such as protozoa, roundworms and
tapeworms can exist in the fat and in the flesh, making it imperative to expose the meat to
sufficient heat to kill these and their larvae.
If you eat your steak rare, then this will not pose you any health problems as long as your
immune system is strong. The bacteria in steak lives on the cut surfaces, so exposure to a high
temperature, even if only for a short time, will kill the bacteria. Steak Tartare or Steak á
l'Americaine can pose problems as this is raw ground steak. However if you buy really fresh
steak and have to ground by a reputable butcher, there should be few health risks- a raw egg yolk
can be perilous though! Don't buy any old ground beef that has been lying around anywhere.
You need to select a piece of choice sirloin steak and have it ground in front of you.
Of course, other foods also cause food poisoning, eggs are culprits as are fish and seafood, also
some vegetables have caused outbreaks of food poisoning, so don't let food scares stop you
eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. If you stick to the health and hygiene rules there shouldn't
be a problem.