V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N! Every summer, many of us long for that word. Millions of people can’t wait to take time away from work or school and take to the road, beach, vacation home, or campground for some relaxation. The Lincoln County Health Department wants to remind everyone that even in time of relaxation, family and friends, food safety should still be taken seriously.
“We tend to see foodborne illnesses and complaints increase in the summer months,” says Meghan Williams, Environmental Health Specialist, Lincoln County Health Department. “This could be for a number of reasons but it all goes back to thinking about and making sure your food is being stored, prepared and handled in a safe way.”
Following some easy, common sense food safety rules could be the difference between a vacation to remember or one that is remembered because of food poisoning.
When traveling with food:
- If you are traveling with refrigerated or frozen food, place in a cooler with ice or freezer packs and place in the car right before you leave.
- Try to reduce the times the cooler needs to be opened. This may mean packing drinks in a separate cooler.
- Pack raw meat away from foods that are already cooked or meant to be eaten raw (such as fruits and vegetables).
When cooking on the grill:
- Wash your hands before touching food.
- Use a separate cutting board and utensils for raw meats and ready-to-eat foods that will not be cooked prior to eating.
- Use a food thermometer to make sure all food is cooked.
When serving food outdoors:
- Never let food sit out for more than 2 hours.
- Serve food in small portions so that the other food can remain in the cooler and refill often.
- Keep hot foods hot by setting on the side of the grill.
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 keeping food safe from foodborne illness by viewing their inspection report. Results are posted to the website one week after an inspection. To view the reports go to lincolncountyhealthdepartment.com and click on “Lincoln County Inspection Reports” on the right side of the page to view all restaurants in Lincoln County.