Easy steps to fight against foodborne illness

Stanton- With summertime officially here and backyard barbeques and family picnics in full swing, the Mid-Michigan District Health Department (MMDHD) would like to take the opportunity to reinforce the importance of proper food handling and inform district residents that food safety should always be on the front burner.

Each year, roughly one out of six American gets sick from foodborne illness. Simple and quick steps like purchasing foods from an approved source, cooking food thoroughly, practicing good hygiene when handling foods and proper food storage can help reduce the risk of foodborne illness and allow you to enjoy your summertime meals to the fullest.

The most common types of foodborne illnesses are those caused by the bacteria Campylobacter, Salmonella, E coli, and by a group of viruses called calicivirus, also known as Norovirus. With symptoms consisting of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea that last on average of 24 to 48 hours, common foodborne illness can often be mistaken for the “24 hour flu.”
To keep you and your family safe, follow these four easy steps when handling and preparing food to minimize the risks of foodborne illness:

Step One – Clean

Wash hands and surfaces often to avoid the spread of bacteria.

· Wash hands with hot, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before handling food, and after handling raw meats or poultry, using the bathroom, touching pets or changing diapers.

· Always wash raw fruits and vegetables in clean water.

Step Two – Separate

Keep raw meats and poultry separate from cooked foods to avoid cross-contamination.

· When you pack a cooler for an outing, wrap uncooked meats and poultry separately, and put them on the bottom to prevent raw juices from dripping onto other foods.

· Wash all plates, utensils, and cutting boards that touched or held raw meat or poultry before using them again for cooked foods.

Step Three – Cook

Make sure you kill harmful bacteria by thoroughly cooking food.

· Traditional visual cues, like color, are not a guarantee that food is safe. Don’t guess! Take a digital instant-read food thermometer along to check when meat and poultry are safe to eat. Cooked foods are safe to eat when internal temperatures are:

o 155o F for 15 seconds for ground beef
o 145o F for 15 seconds for beef steak
o 165o F for 15 seconds for poultry
o 145o F for 15 seconds for pork chops/steak

Step Four – Chill

Keep cold food cold.

· Perishable foods that are normally in the refrigerator, such as luncheon meats, cooked meat, chicken, and potato or pasta salads, must be kept in an insulated cooler with freezer packs or blocks of ice to keep the temperature at or near 40o F.

· Put leftovers back in the cooler as soon as you are finished eating.

· The simple rule is: When in doubt, throw it out!

If you should experience foodborne illness symptoms, it is important not prepare food for others and to contact MMDHDs Environmental Health Division at 989-831-3607 in Montcalm County, 989-875-1002 in Gratiot County and 989-227-3110 in Clinton County with any questions.

For additional information on proper food handling, visit the United States Department of Agriculture website at www.usda.gov.

Posted in: Local News.
Last Modified: June 28, 2012