Foodborne Illness – Tips for the Holidays

It is assumed you have not invited an unwelcome guest to your holiday celebrations this week, namely food-borne illnesses (aka food poisoning). This pesky guest tries to ruin your party via bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Do you know that 1 in 6 Americans, or 48 million, succumb every year to a variety of 250 foodborne illnesses that are not only miserable but infectious?! These statistics are sad given the fact that such illnesses are highly preventable, as are the awful symptoms of abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, and Montezuma’s revenge.

Do not let yourself or your loved ones become part of the statistics this year. Instead, be proactive in preventing needless misery by taking some safe food handling tips from the experts. They first stress cleanliness (i.e. hand washing, clean food contact surfaces/tools, produce rinsing/brushing) and cannot stress soap and water enough. They say, however, not to rinse raw meat prior to cooking as that just promotes the spreading of dangerous bacteria. Second, experts warn against cross-contamination through mixing raw bacteria prone foods (i.e. raw meat, raw eggs, meat juices) with foods that will not be cooked (i.e. fruits and vegetables). Third, experts recommend that cooking thermometers be used in cooking all foods to assure they are done and safe to eat. Do not forget that things like using unpasteurized eggs in egg nog or eating that yummy cookie dough, with raw eggs, are raw food dangers as well! Finally, experts beg people to refrigerate their foods as fast as possible so that bacteria are not given the chance to grow in room temperatures. The refrigerator should be at 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer should be at 0 degree Fahrenheit, and food should be defrosted in the refrigerator, with cold water, or in the microwave, taking care to cook the food immediately if thawed via the latter two ways. Do not forget pumpkin pie and related items are included and leftovers need to be eaten up or thrown away in about 3 to 4 days.

When it comes to consuming food, the old adage is good to remember, ‘when in doubt throw it out!’ Inserra & Kelley wishes everyone a safe and happy holiday season spent enjoying loved ones fondly, and safely.