LANDSTUHL, Germany – Foodborne illnesses increase during the summer months but can easily be avoided by following a few simple recommendations from Public Health Command Europe.
Once the sun is out, people often gather outdoors for barbecues, picnics, or outdoor festivals. The safety controls that an indoor kitchen provides, such as thermostat-controlled cooking, refrigeration and convenient washing facilities, are usually not readily available. This can lead to foodborne illnesses.
“Bacteria and viruses often multiply faster in warmer temperatures, and preparing food outdoors makes safe food handling more difficult,” explained Col. Rodney Coldren, Chief of Public Health Command Europe's Preventive Medicine Services. “While cooking out or grilling people forget to wash their hands frequently and don’t store their food properly. These circumstances are ideal for bacterial growth.”
According to the CDC, there are 48 million foodborne illness cases in the United States every year. At least 128,000 Americans are hospitalized, and 3,000 die after eating contaminated food.
The most typical foodborne diseases are norovirus, salmonella and e.coli.
Common symptoms of foodborne illness are diarrhea and/or vomiting, typically lasting one to seven days. Other symptoms might include abdominal cramps, nausea, fever, joint/back aches, and fatigue.
“Foodborne disease are easily transmitted from contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces,” said Coldren. “It is best to wash your hands frequently with soap and water to avoid the spread of germs.”
Most outbreaks of foodborne illnesses occur when infected people spread the virus to others through direct contact, such as by caring for them, or sharing food or eating utensils.
It is important to keep the following recommendations in mind when preparing food for yourself or others:
• Wash your hands before handling food and often during food preparation
• Wash your hands after going to the toilet
• Wash and sanitize all surfaces and equipment used for food preparation
• Protect kitchen areas and food from insects, pests and other animals
2. Separate raw and cooked:
• Separate raw meat, poultry and seafood from other foods
• Use separate equipment and utensils such as knives and cutting boards for handling raw foods
• Store food in containers to avoid contact between raw and prepared foods
3. Cook thoroughly:
• Cook food thoroughly, especially meat, poultry, eggs and seafood
• Bring foods like soups and stews to boiling to make sure that they have reached 70°C. For meat and poultry, make sure that juices are clear, not pink. Ideally, use a thermometer
• Reheat cooked food thoroughly
4. Keep food at safe temperatures:
• Do not leave cooked food at room temperature for more than 2 hours
• Refrigerate promptly all cooked and perishable food (preferably below 5°C)
• Keep cooked food piping hot (more than 60°C) prior to serving
• Do not store food too long even in the refrigerator
• Do not thaw frozen food at room temperature
5. Use safe water and raw materials:
• Wash fruits and vegetables, especially if eaten raw
• Do not use food beyond its expiry date
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