No one likes to throw away food, but according to Recycle Works, "At least 28 billion pounds of edible food are wasted each year - equating to over 100 pounds per person." This is especially true during the holidays since, "From Thanksgiving to New Year's Day, household waste increases by more than 25%." What is worse than wasting food, however, is trying to salvage food that has already expired which can lead to health complications in those with Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis.
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that the average American suffers from food-borne illness about once every five years, but the risk is likely higher for Chronic Kidney Disease, Dialysis and Kidney Transplant patients who must contend with compromised immune systems. Bacteria or mold found in expired food can cause patients nausea, vomiting, watery diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramps, fever, and intense headaches.
Alone these side effects may be manageable for the average person. However, for Chronic Kidney Disease, Dialysis or Kidney Transplant patients, food-borne illness can lead to serious issues such as missed Dialysis Treatments - compromising health or inability to digest vital Immunosuppressant Medication leading to Kidney Transplant Failure.
Fortunately, most cases of food-borne illness can be prevented with proper food handling. Hence, patients may consider adopting a few little-known tips to improve their abilities to limit food waste while avoiding illness.
IT'S EXPIRED: Leftovers can be kept for three to four days in the refrigerator. Be sure to eat them within that time. After that, the risk of food poisoning increases.
FREEZING: If you do not think that you will be able to eat leftovers within four days, freeze them in appropriate containers immediately.
AVOID THE "DANGER ZONE:" According to the Mayo Clinic, foods should be eaten or refrigerated promptly. "Your goal," said the renowned hospital, "is to minimize the time a food is in the 'danger zone' — between 40 and 140 F (4 and 60 C) — when bacteria can quickly multiply."
IF IT HAS MOLD, IT IS OLD: If food has just a spot of mold, it is tempting to just skim or trim off small areas that are contaminated and eat the rest. "In general, I don’t recommend that," noted Dr. C. Leigh Broadhurst. Molds have long, threadlike structures beneath the part that you can see on the surface of the food item. The threads grow rapidly, particularly in soft foods with a high liquid content. That’s why it is much better to assume that the mold has spread throughout a container even if you cannot see it. Dr. Broadhurst recommended, "If a slice of bread has mold, throw out the entire loaf."
REHEAT AND EAT: When you're ready to eat leftovers, reheat them on the stove, in the oven or in the microwave until the internal temperature reaches 165 F (74 C) because they may not get hot enough in slow cookers and chafing dishes.
DO NOT TASTE TEST: Never taste your food to check if it has spoiled. You can't taste, see or even smell the bacteria that causes food poisoning, and tasting just a tiny bit of contaminated food can cause serious illness. Be sure to throw away all expired food before harmful bacteria grow.
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