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College students are packing their bags – clothes, bedding, books, TV, computer, iPod, and cell phone. Some will bring a microwave, toaster ovens, and mini refrigerator so they can conveniently eat whenever and whatever, or to avoid the infamous dining hall “mystery meat.” For most students residing in the dorms, this is the first time living away from home, and the first opportunity to be responsible for their own food. This means that they may not be knowledgeable about how to handle and store food safely in a dorm room.

Safely preparing and storing food is a continuous concern for college students, posing a risk of food-borne illnesses. One of the biggest mistakes they make is leaving pizza out overnight and eating it for breakfast the next morning. Another is following what many call the “five second rule.” How can this rule really protect food from bacteria? Picking up food quickly has no limit on the amount of bacteria that touches fallen food. The food can pick up enough bacteria in 5 seconds to make you sick.

Unfortunately, food poisoning can be a serious and potentially even fatal problem, so it’s important to be aware of some basic food safety tips.

· Thaw meats completely in the refrigerator, not on the counter.

· Wash hands and surfaces often.

· Wash used cutting boards and utensils in hot, soapy water.

· Separate raw meat, poultry, and eggs from cooked foods to avoid cross-contamination.

· Cook raw meat, poultry, and eggs thoroughly. Partial cooking of food ahead of time allows bacteria to multiply to the point that subsequent cooking cannot destroy them

· Use a food thermometer to check internal temperatures. Holding food at an unsafe temperature is a prime cause of food-borne illness.

· Refrigerate food promptly.

When it comes to food safety, it is not limited to recalls. Food contamination happens everyday, even in our homes and schools. If you have ever been sick due to food poisoning, you may already know how seriously ill you can become. You can become so sick that it leads to dehydration, which is more serious than most people thing. Food poisoning can put you in the hospital; it can even be fatal. Educate your college-bound students before they leave home. Teach them how to recognize and prevent food poisoning.

Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed during pending litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

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