Every year approximately 1 in 6 Americans gets sick, and 128,000 are hospitalized from foodborne illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention The Lincoln County Health Department is reminding citizens that by following basic food safety tips, it can help lower the chance that you, your family, and friends get sick this summer at a party or picnic. “Foodborne illness increases in the summer for a few different reasons,” says Meghan Williams, Registered Environmental Health Specialist, Lincoln County Health Department. “One of the biggest reasons is that warm humid weather provides favorable conditions for bacteria to grow.”
“Another reason is that we find ourselves gathering at outdoor events where a large assortment of food is served. Many of us do not think about how the food is being stored, prepared, and handled.” The everyday safety controls that a kitchen provides such as, refrigeration and washing facilities may not be available at these places. By following these four simple steps, it can help keep you from getting ill this summer:
- CLEAN: Wash hands and surfaces often.
- Wash your hands with warm soapy water before handling food, after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and handling pets.
- Make sure to have a way of washing hands and utensils when eating away from home. Pack a clean, wet disposable washcloth or moist towel for cleaning hands and surfaces.
2. SEPARATE: Don’t cross contaminate.
- When packing the cooler make sure to wrap raw meats; do not let raw meat juices come in contact with food that is ready-to-eat.
- Wash plates, utensils, and cutting boards that held raw meat before using again for cooked food.
- COOK: Cook to proper temperatures.
- Take your thermometer along. Meat and poultry cooked on a grill often brown very fast on the outside, so be sure that meats are cooked thoroughly. Check with a food thermometer
4. CHILL: Refrigerate quickly.
- Foods like lunchmeat, cooked meat, chicken, pasta salads, and potato salad should be kept in an insulated cooler packed with ice, ice packs, or containers of frozen water and kept below 41 oF.
- Refrigerate or freeze prepared foods and leftovers within two hours of use.
The signs and symptoms of foodborne illness can include, upset stomach, diarrhea, fever, vomiting, stomach cramps and dehydration. If you believe that you are sick from food that was not handled or cooked correctly, contact your medical provider to be tested. You can also go online and see how your favorite restaurant is preventing foodborne illness by viewing their inspection report. Results are posted to the website one week after an inspection. To view the reports go to http://lincolncountyhealthdepartment.com or www.co.lincoln.wi.us and click on “Lincoln County Inspection Reports” on the right side of the page to view restaurants in Lincoln County.
For more information on food safety visit: http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/events/summervacations/ for more information on Lincoln County’s Environmental Health Program visit: http://lincolncountyhealthdepartment.com/environmental-health/.