ODESSA, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) – One way to take care of yourself and your family this summer is by taking care of the food you eat or prepare. As part of this week’s WesTex segment, Dr. Terry Beck explains what kind of precautions you should take to avoid getting sick from food bacteria, and where you are more likely to be in contact with it.
“The bacteria we would typically worry about are gonna be bacteria like Salmonella, Shigella,or E.Coli. Those are common bacteria that can get into food. And the classic setting that I would refer to would be say a restaurant, where there’s a banquet, or banquet style, or where you serve it buffet style.”
Foods that sit out for a long time are likely to harbor bacteria. Another scenario could be when you go out for a picnic and you’re outside in the summer heat. The doctor says there are specific foods to look out for when you’re going to cook, or go out to a restaurant.
“Anything that say has dairy in it, mayonnaise or eggs or things like that are typical types of foods where the contamination with foods may be a higher risk. “
While it’s important to stay away from foods that have bad bacteria, Dr. Beck says there are foods that are typically safe.
“This doesn’t sound healthy, but foods that may have preservatives in them or foods that have cured in some way, say a smoked meat-or anything that’s been smoked or cured in some way.”
Foods that have been cooked that way are usually well-preserved, minimizing the chances of contamination. There is also a food that has good bacteria in it, that helps your digestive system.
“The main sources that I would think, about as far as good bacteria would be things like yogurt, that have active yeast culture in them. those can act like a probiotic, And probiotics provide our gastrointestinal system with ‘good bacteria’ that are in our body for a purpose. They have a reason and purpose, and they can promote our overall gastrointestinal health, our GI health. And whether you want to get your probiotics in the form of yogurt, or a pull or a capsule form, that’s okay too. ”
As far as COVID-19 concerns, the doctor says it is possible to get the virus on your food. It’s not a typical problem, but he says to watch your food.
“If say, a restaurant worker were not wearing a mask, or were not wearing a mask properly-I think that’s a big deal there too. And if they were to be infected with COVID and they coughed or sneezed on your food, then yes it’s potentially-it can be spread from your food because, especially if it happened right before they served it to you. So our hope would be that restaurant workers are wearing masks and that if they’re sick, they’re not going to be at work. But again, sometimes your just don’t always know. But we don’t think of getting COVID from eating food, typically.”
Dr. Beck says it’s helpful to check the shelf life of food. If an ingredient looks normal, doesn’t have a funky smell, and isn’t past the normal expiration date, you should be okay to eat it. But if you have any doubts, it’s always better to throw out the food. At a restaurant, don’t hesitate to talk to your waiter or waitress if you have concerns.