BBQs, buffets and doggy-bags are a no-no and I’ll NEVER touch oysters: Microbiologist’s must-know guide on what (and WHERE) you shouldn’t eat

Oysters should not be on the menu and should be wary of picnics. At least, if you want to avoid getting food poisoning.

For a microphonerobiologist has shared her essential guide to do’s and don’ts to avoid suffering from crippling stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea.

Dr. Primrose Freestone, a senior lecturer at the University of Leicester, says she avoids eating in certain settings – such as barbecues and picnics – and never asks for a doggie bag for her leftovers in restaurants.

Despite being seemingly harmless activities, they increase the risk of becoming unwell due to improperly prepared food – which can be fatal in severe cases.

Here are the tips she shared The conversation.

Dr. Primrose Freestone, a senior lecturer at the University of Leicester, says she avoids eating in certain settings – such as barbecues and picnics – and never asks for a doggie bag for her leftovers in restaurants.

Avoid barbecues and picnics

Moving meals outside for picnics and barbecues is a summer highlight for millions of us.

But Dr. Freestone warned that the risk of food poisoning skyrockets once food is brought outside due to unclean hands, germ-ridden insects and temperature. She said she “rarely” eats outside.

Washing hands before touching food is essential to avoid becoming unwell, but there are rarely facilities to do this when eating outside, she said.

While hand sanitizers are better than nothing, they won’t always kill the germs lurking on your food, according to Dr. Freestone.

In addition, there are many flies, wasps and ants, which often swarm when food is eaten outdoors, which can spread E. coli, salmonella and listeria, she noted.

What is food poisoning?

Food poisoning is caused by eating something contaminated with germs.

Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps and fever are the main symptoms.

They usually start within a few days of eating the food that caused the infection.

Most cases can be treated at home by drinking plenty of fluids, with symptoms usually clearing up within a week.

Food poisoning is caused by not cooking or reheating food thoroughly, not storing food properly, leaving food out for too long, or eating food that has passed its expiration date.

Controlling the temperature of food outdoors poses another challenge because hot weather encourages the growth of germs, Dr. Freestone said.

Thoroughly cooking food on a barbecue can also be difficult, increasing the risk of ingesting bacteria that cause food poisoning.

Be careful with buffets

Filling your plate with an array of dishes while sitting at a restaurant, hotel or all-inclusive holiday buffet may sound like a dream.

But it is not without risk, Dr. Freestone warns.

Trays of fruit, meat and eggs are exposed to the elements, with insects, dust and other food items – touching, coughing or sneezing – all posing a risk of contamination.

Although perishable foods such as seafood, salads and desserts are safe to eat for two hours after being removed from the refrigerator, it is difficult to say how long buffet foods have been on display.

And food that is lukewarm rather than hot, rated at 60C (140F), is a breeding ground for bacteria that cause food poisoning.

Dr. Freestone recommended that at any buffet that doesn’t meet these criteria, stick to toast, or be first in line at the buffet and watch the clock to see how often perishable food is replaced.

Don’t eat shellfish

Despite their popularity, raw shellfish such as oysters, mussels and clams can be a pathogen.

Even if they don’t look or smell bad, they can be full of germs, such as the bacteria vibrio, which causes illness and diarrhea, according to Dr. Freestone, who said she would “never” eat raw shellfish.

Oysters can also harbor norovirus, which is transmitted through human sewage that enters areas where they are grown, making them a pathogen.

Consuming raw shellfish in any form carries a risk of food poisoning, Dr Freestone warned.

Around 14,000 people in Britain and 80,000 in the US become unwell from eating seafood, with oysters the biggest culprit.

However, health chiefs note that with 13 million oysters served in Britain every year, the risk of getting sick is relatively low.

Avoid bagged salad

Ready-made bags of lettuce, spinach and arugula are an indispensable part of the refrigerator for many.

But that’s also a no-no for Dr. Freestone. They can also be packed with E. Coli, salmonella and listeria, which grow a thousand times better when packed in a bag with lettuce leaf juices, she warned.

Outbreaks of food poisoning have been traced to bags of arugula.

And studies suggest that storing salad in bags causes bacteria to mutate and become more contagious.

Dr. However, Freestone noted that the risk is small for most, as long as the salad bags are kept in the refrigerator, washed well and eaten shortly after purchase.

Rethink your cooking habits

Most people might think they know their way around their kitchen.

But they might conflict with Dr. Freestone’s list of do’s and don’ts for preventing food poisoning.

Washing hands before and after handling food is a must, as is using different cutting boards for raw and cooked foods, she says.

And while saving leftovers is a good way to reduce food waste, Dr Freestone urges against saving cooked rice to reheat the next day.

This is because uncooked rice can be contaminated with Bacillus cereus, which causes food poisoning.

The bacteria are killed when rice is cooked, but the spores survive, allowing the bacteria to grow back when the rice cools to room temperature and then is reheated.

Dr. Freestone also recommends not always relying on expiration dates.

If a label says a food is safe to eat for a few days, throw it away if it looks or smells different than expected or if the package looks swollen – a telltale sign that bacteria has grown in the food .

Don’t ask for a doggy bag

After enjoying a meal at a restaurant, it can be tempting to ask if you can take leftovers with you to enjoy later.

But this could pose a new risk of food poisoning, Dr Freestone warns.

Because usually they have exceeded the two-hour time limit in which food must be kept in the refrigerator after cooking, making it unsafe to eat.

She wrote: ‘I never collect ‘doggy bags’ of leftover food (usually the two hour time limit is exceeded) even if they are actually intended for a pet.’