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Food Poisoning Health Center

Are Food Safety Rules Helping to Ban the Germs? CDC Doesn't Know

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Food safety experts agree -- in part. They say the regulations were a step in the right direction but that the government, industry, and consumers should not consider these regulations to be a "magic bullet."

"These bugs have been around longer than any humans, and it would be safe to assume that they can adapt," explains Ronald Labbe, PhD, a professor of food microbiology at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. "We are intruding on them, they are not intruding on us."

Still, Labbe adds that there is no reason for consumers to take radical action.

"There is always going to be some element of risk. It's something you have to put up with in life," he tells WebMD, noting that at the very least there is no way to establish whether food from a restaurant will be safe.

To decrease the degree of risk, Labbe says there are several steps consumers can take. Among them, Labbe suggests avoiding raw protein-based foods like shellfish, keeping a clean kitchen and hands, as well as following the directions on food labels.

"Most of the steps are just common sense," Labbe notes.

But at the same time, consumers can also exercise some flexibility, Labbe tells WebMD. For example, he says, although it is advisable to refrigerate leftovers right away -- it probably would not kill anyone to leave that turkey out for an hour or so.

"I find myself in that category as well," Labbe says. "You just have to make sure that you refrigerate it before going to bed. Leaving it out overnight could be a big deal."

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