July 4th Food Safety
Picnics and cookouts often top the list of activities for 4th of July weekend. It is important to take extra safety precautions when preparing and serving food during the warmer weather to avoid foodborne illnesses.
Keep your gatherings free of foodborne illness by taking proper food safety precautions when cooking and preparing meals. Thoroughly rinse fresh fruits and vegetables. Hands should be washed thoroughly and frequently with soap and warm water before, during, and after handling food, as well as while serving. Properly wash your hands after handling raw poultry, meat, or eggs.
Cook foods thoroughly, to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria. Since color is not a reliable indicator of doneness, use a food thermometer to ensure food is cooked to the proper temperature. Cook all poultry to a minimum internal temperature of 165°, ground beef to a minimum internal temperature of 155°F, and fish to a minimum internal temperature of 145°. After cooking, remember to keep hot food hot (140°F or above).
Keep cold foods cold (40°F or below) during the entire serving process. Raw meat, fish, or poultry should be kept cold until it is cooked and make sure it does not come in contact with ready-to-eat food (such as cheese, sliced onions, tomatoes, or bread). Also, to avoid cross-contamination, never place cooked meats on the same plate or pan that held raw meats. Bacteria from raw meat and poultry can get into other foods if they touch the same surfaces or each other.
Do not leave food un-refrigerated longer than one hour at a time. Some popular cold picnic foods are potentially hazardous and require special care, such as any homemade salads (such as chicken, tuna, or potato salad); deviled eggs; luncheon meats; sliced tomatoes; cut melons; and milk or other dairy products.
If you or a family member develops nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, or abdominal cramps you could have food poisoning. Symptoms of foodborne illnesses can appear anywhere from 30 minutes to two weeks after eating the contaminated food. Most often, people get sick within 4 - 48 hours after eating contaminated food. Some foodborne illnesses may resolve on their own without treatment, but if the symptoms are severe or if the victim is elderly, pregnant, or under 4 years old, call a doctor or go to a nearby hospital.
For more information on proper food safety practices, visit the Clay County Health Department’s website at www.healthdept.org or contact them at 618-662-4406.