Newark, NJ--Picnics and barbecues are part of many summer traditions for families and a time to gather with friends and enjoy. But summer gatherings can become dangerous if safe food handling precautions are not taken. Hot summer temperatures can help food-borne bacteria multiply, spoiling food and causing illness. Recent outbreaks of food poisoning that have caused illness and death illustrate the need for food safety. “Centers for Disease Control (CDC) claims 5,000 people die each year from food poisoning,” reports Francis Sunaryo, M.D., pediatric gastroenterologist at Children’s Hospital of New Jersey at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. “Young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems are often the most seriously affected.”CDC estimates that there are from six to 33 million cases of food poisoning in the United States annually. While many people know that meats can be contaminated, they may not be as aware that fruits and vegetables that are eaten raw, such as lettuce, may be contaminated by bacteria in soil, water, and dust during washing and packing.When left unrefrigerated, many foods can become contaminated with bacteria that produce the dangerous toxins that cause food poisoning. These bacteria are undetectable by sight, smell or taste and thrive on foods that are left out for very long, especially at warmer, summer temperatures. Typical signs of food borne illness, much like those of the flu, include nausea, vomiting, cramps, and diarrhea. In serious cases, high fever, bloody stool, and prolonged vomiting may occur. Newark Beth Israel Medical Center offers these suggestions to avoid food-borne illness:
1 Meat, poultry, fish, and eggs should never be eaten raw. These foods should be maintained in a refrigerator at a temperature below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and cooked thoroughly before eating. A cooking temperature of 160 degrees on meat thermometer is advised.
2 Avoid interrupted cooking. If you are partially cooking foods indoors to finish cooking on the grill, make sure the food goes directly from the oven to the hot grill. Don't let the food stand partially cooked for any time.
3 Keep cooked foods separate from raw foods. Cross-contamination of foods could occur if bacteria-harboring raw food comes in contact with cooked foods. Wash hands, utensils, cutting boards and countertops after preparing raw meats.
4 Wash off fruits and vegetables with cool running water." Also, scrub fruits with rough surfaces like cantaloupe with a soft brush.
5 Wash your hands before handling food, after handling raw foods, and always after using the toilet
6 Cover cuts and sores with waterproof dressings. Do not cough or sneeze over food. Keep hands away from your face and hair
7 Do not smoke while handling food. Wash hands after a smoke break and before handling food again
8 Wear clean outerwear and keep your person clean. Keep fingernails short, jewelry to a minimum and long hair tied back
9 Keep food either piping hot or refrigerator cold. Keep food covered and free from contamination
10 Clean as you go. Wipe up spills immediately. Keep utensils and surfaces clean and sanitized.
11 Whenever possible use tongs, spoons, etc. to handle food.
12 When in doubt, throw it out! You can't taste or smell the bacteria that cause food poisoning.
For Immediate Release
Contact: Beth Salamon
Public Relations, (973) 322-4926
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