Health Watch — Bacteria: Food Safety

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications  and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

This week on Health Watch, we’ve been talking about bacteria that cause illness — especially the bacteria found in food. Scientists are looking for new ways to understand and treat bacterial infections, but you can prevent many food-borne illnesses by practicing good food safety.

Vickie Vaclavik, a nutrition expert at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says you need to keep food either cold or hot. It’s the in-between state that allows bacteria to grow. Food shouldn’t stay more than four hours in this danger zone. When serving buffet style, use smaller containers and replace them frequently so food stays fresh, or else use serving containers that keep foods hot or cold. You can also avoid food-borne illness by washing hands frequently, before, during and after cooking, and don’t allow foods to come in contact with contaminated surfaces. Be especially careful with raw meats. You should use different utensils and containers for raw foods and cooked foods.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in nutrition.


October 2008

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