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Food Safety Guide

Food Safety Guide

Illness caused by contaminated or improperly prepared foods cause up to 81 million people to get sick each year, with almost 9000 of these illnesses leading to death. Children are among the people most at risk for serious illness from food poisoning.

To protect your child from germs that cause food poisoning, it is important to practice the following food safety techniques, which include not giving your child undercooked or poorly refrigerated poultry, meat, fish or eggs; washing your hands, utensils and kitchen surfaces after handling uncooked poultry and meat; thoroughly washing fruits and vegetables; not giving your child unpasteurized dairy products or fruit juices; avoiding fish and other seafoods from noncommercial sources; not serving hamburgers rare; promptly refrigerating leftovers and not leaving foods at room temperature for more than a few hours; defrosting foods in the refrigerator; and keeping your refrigerator set to at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit and your freezer to 0 degrees.

About food poisoning...

Almost any food can become contaminated by a virus, bacteria, or parasite and cause food poisoning. Foods can also make you sick if they are contaminated with pesticides or other toxins. The most common symptoms of food poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea and fever and they begin a short time after eating a contaminated food. In most people symptoms are mild and clear up quickly, but food poisoning can lead to dehydration, kidney failure and even death.

Foods most likely to cause illness include raw or undercooked ground beef (E. coli), chicken (Salmonella), seafood (which can be contaminated with hepatitis A and other viruses and bacteria) , and eggs (Salmonella). Fruits and vegetables can also be contaminated with viruses such as hepatitis A and parasites. Unpasteurized milk and fruit juices (especially apple cider) can also be contaminated with bacteria and should be avoided.

Preventing food poisoning...
  • To help prevent your family from getting sick from eating contaminated foods, follow these guidelines when buying and preparing their meals:
  • Keep your refrigerator at or below 41 degrees F and your freezer at 0 degrees.
  • When shopping for foods, quickly return home and refrigerate perishable foods and place bags that contain meats, poultry, fish and eggs separately from other foods to avoid contamination.
  • Do not buy or use foods without intact packaging.
  • Do not buy or use cans that have been dented or that are bulging.
  • Consider using a plastic cutting board to prepare foods, since bacteria can become trapped in the grooves of wooden cutting boards.
  • Wash your hands for twenty seconds with soap and warm water before preparing foods, before you begin to prepare a new food and again before you serve the food.
  • Avoid cross-contamination of foods by washing utensils, cutting boards, and all kitchen surfaces that come in contact with raw meats and poultry before preparing a new food with them. Also be careful to use a separate plate for cooked foods then the one you used when the food was still raw.
  • Rinse fruits and vegetables before serving or eating.
  • Thaw and marinate foods in the refrigerator, instead of leaving them out at room temperature.
  • Wash dishcloths in hot water after using them to clean up after raw meats and poultry.
  • Keep pets away from all areas where you prepare foods.
  • Thoroughly cook foods to kill germs and consider using a meat thermometer to ensure proper cooking temperatures. Red meats should be cooked to an interior temperature of 160 degrees F and make sure the inside is brown or gray to make sure it is fully cooked. Hamburgers especially should not be served rare. Poultry should be cooked to an interior temperature of 180 degrees F and until the juices run clear.
  • Refrigerate leftovers and do not leave foods out at room temperature for more than two hours.
  • Throw away partially eaten foods and beverages.
  • Thoroughly reheat leftovers before eating.
  • Do not eat raw eggs.
  • Do not drink unpasteurized milk or fruit juices (especially apple cider that is not pasteurized or heat treated).
  • Do not use foods or beverages that taste, look or smell unusual.
  • If you are unsure if a food is still good, be safe and throw it out.

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