Have you noticed the increased amount of reported foodborne illness outbreaks lately? The CDC estimates that 1 in 6 Americans are exposed to a foodborne illness each year. Symptoms from bacteria such as Campylobacter, Salmonella and E. Coli can last up to two days and include fever, diarrhea and abdominal craps. Severe complications may lead to life threatening infections, profuse bleeding, kidney failure and even death. Raw foods such as meat and poultry, eggs, unpasteurized milk, shellfish and fruits and vegetables are more likely to be contaminated. The next time you’re cooking for yourself or family put these best practices to use to avoid catching and spreading a foodborne illness. Cook Meat, Poultry and Eggs Thoroughly Egg yolks should be white and firm, not runny. A good way to be sure that meat is cooked is to use a thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the meat. Based on USDA recommendations:
- ■ Cook whole cuts of meat (pork, steaks, roasts and chops) to 145 °F
- ■ Place the thermometer in the thickest part of the meat
- ■ Allow the meat to rest for 3 minutes before carving or consuming
- ■ Cook fish to 145 °F or until the flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork.
- ■ Cook ground meats (ground beef, veal, lamb and pork) to 160 °F
- ■ Cook all poultry products (including ground chicken and turkey) to 165 °F
- Wash your hands, utensils, and cutting boards after they’ve been in contact with raw meat or poultry and before they touch another food.
- Do not put cooked meats on the same platter that held raw meat.
Refrigerate Your Leftovers
- Bacteria can grow quickly at room temperate, so refrigerate leftovers if they aren’t going to be eaten within 4 hours.
Wash All Produce
- Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables in running tap water to remove dirt and grime.
- For vegetables like a head of lettuce or cabbage, remove the outermost leaves.
- Avoid leaving cut produce at room temperature for many hours.
More importantly, don’t be a source of foodborne illness yourself. Wash your hands with soap and water and avoid preparing food for others if you have a diarrheal illness. Report suspected foodborne illnesses to your local health department and seek medical treatment if you feel that you have ingested tainted food. “Fight Bac – Keep Food Safe From Bacteria.” Food Safety Education. 2010. Web. 23 June 2011. “Foodborne Illness”. National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases: Division of Bacterial Diseases. 23 Dec. 2010. Web. 23 June 2010