Fourth of July
Food Safety Tips for a Safe and Healthy Holiday
Practicing proper food handling techniques will protect yourself, your family and friends from food-borne illness and food contamination. Here are some tips to keep in mind when preparing, storing, and cooking food as you celebrate Memorial Day and July 4th.
- Wash hands, utensils, and food preparation surfaces.
- Food safety begins with hand-washing, even in outdoor settings. And it can be as simple as using a water jug, some soap, and paper towels.
- Consider using moist disposable towelettes for cleaning your hands.
- Keep all utensils and platters clean when preparing food.
Preparing Fruits and Vegetables
- Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten, under running tap water before packing them. Packaged fruits and vegetables labeled "ready-to-eat," "washed," or "triple washed" need not be washed.
- Rub firm-skin fruits and vegetables under running tap water or scrub with a clean vegetable brush while rinsing with running tap water.
Salmonellosis, or salmonella, is one of the most common foodborne diseases. Overall, salmonella infections are decreasing in the United States, but some types are still increasing.
Salmonella may occur in small, contained outbreaks in the general population or in large outbreaks in hospitals, restaurants, or institutions housing children or the elderly. While the disease is found worldwide, health experts most often report cases in North America and Europe. Every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) receives reports of 40,000 cases of salmonellosis in the United States.
Salmonella bacteria can be found in food products such as raw poultry, eggs, and beef, and sometimes on unwashed fruit. Food prepared on surfaces that previously were in contact with raw meat or meat products can, in turn, become contaminated with the bacteria. This is called cross-contamination.
In recent years, the CDC has received reports of several cases of salmonella from eating raw alfalfa sprouts grown in contaminated soil. You also can get salmonella after handling pets, particularly reptiles like snakes, turtles, and lizards.
Salmonella can become a chronic infection even if you do not have symptoms. In addition, though you may have no symptoms, you can spread the disease by not washing your hands before preparing food for others. In fact, if you know you have salmonella, health care experts recommend you do not prepare food or pour water for others until laboratory tests show you no longer carry salmonella bacteria.
The following symptoms usually begin from 12 hours to 3 days after you are infected.
- Abdominal cramps
These symptoms, along with possible nausea, loss of appetite, and vomiting, usually last for 4 to 7 days.
Symptoms are most severe in the elderly, infants, and people with chronic conditions such as diabetes or HIV infection.
Reviewed by Francine Kaufman, MD. 4/08
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