The slow cooker habit that experts warn could give you food poisoning

Slow cookers have become a kitchen mainstay for many busy home cooks. They’re convenient, cost-effective, and time-saving, making them a hit for households.

For most dishes, preparation is straightforward too, put all the ingredients in the slow cooker and save time and clean-up. And a variety of foods can be cooked in a slow cooker, from soups, stews and side dishes, to mains, meats, and desserts, reports The Mirror.

Just like any cooking tool however, it is vital you take precautions to ensure food is bacteria free. One common mistake, experts say, could lead to food poisoning.

Placing frozen meats, vegetables or prepared meals in a slow cooker is definitely not recommended, as it may take them too long to fully thaw and begin cooking.

 a variety of foods can be cooked in a slow cooker, from soups, stews and side dishes, to mains, meats, and desserts.

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This can mean food is left at an unsafe temperature for an extended period of time, allowing bacteria to grow and potentially cause illness. That is according to Meredith Carothers, a public affairs specialist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Instead, Carothers says it is best to thaw frozen ingredients in the fridge, in cold water or in the microwave first. The only exception is if you are using a commercially prepared slow-cooked meal that instructs you to place the ingredients in the slow cooker while they’re still frozen.

Similarly, if you are re-heating food in a slow cooker, it may take too long to reheat some ingredients. 

“When it’s cooking, there’s that time-temperature relationship that cooks it within a certain amount of time versus reheating it,” Carothers told AARP.

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“It’s just an extra safety measure to make sure that you’re reheating something quickly and efficiently versus putting it into a slow cooker.”

It comes after one woman found herself unwell after making vegan stew in a slow cooker. Anne Sullivan found a white bean stew recipe and diligently followed all the instructions – including pre-soaking the beans, then letting them simmer all day in the slow cooker.

However, seven hours later, the beans were still the same size. Sullivan still took a bowlful to work with her anyway and ate it, even though the beans were tough and chewy. She began to feel faint and dizzy, adding: “I must have looked awful, too, because my boss told me to go home and get some sleep. I felt like throwing up.”

It later turned out she had undercooked the beans, meaning a naturally occurring toxin called phytohaemagglutinin was even more potent than normal. What she should have done is soak the beans for five hours, drained them, rinsed and then boiled them. 

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