Health and Family Services Cabinet
Don’t Let Foodborne Illness Spoil Your Independence Day
Note to editors/producers: This is one of a series of news releases being issued as part of a joint Fourth of July and summer safety campaign by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, the State Fire Marshal’s Office, Kentucky State Police and the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. The campaign addresses fireworks safety, drowning prevention, boating safety, food safety, sunburn/skin cancer prevention and West Nile Virus information. Please visit our Summer Safety Web site at http://chfs.ky.gov/summerSafety08.htm for all campaign releases and to download audio/video PSAs and other resources.
Frankfort, KY (June 27, 2008) – The Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) wants all Kentuckians to observe a happy and safe Independence Day by following a few simple food preparation and food handling guidelines during outdoor cookouts, picnics and barbecues.
“The key to food protection is simple: Keep hot food hot, and keep cold food cold,” said Christine Atkinson, manager of the food safety branch in the Department for Public Health (DPH). “Pregnant women, infants and the elderly need to be especially mindful of food safety because they are more vulnerable to foodborne illness. However, anyone can get sick from contaminated food. We’re offering these simple guidelines for proper food preparation and storage to help our residents avoid that.” According to DPH, food left out in the sun or in hot cars too long can become a breeding ground for bacteria and may cause foodborne illness when consumed. This is particularly important to remember for holiday parties, when there is an increased likelihood for exposing multiple people to foodborne illness.
DPH investigates foodborne illness outbreaks, like the current nationwide outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul linked to raw tomatoes. In 2006, DPH investigated three separate outbreaks of salmonella; there were two outbreaks of E. coli and two outbreaks of norovirus (both foodborne) in 2007; and in 2008, there have been three foodborne illness outbreaks.
To avoid exposure to bacteria and prevent foodborne illness, DPH recommends following these guidelines:
− Wash hands before eating or preparing food, after using the restroom, between handling raw and ready-to-eat items and after handling pets. Wash with hot soapy water and dry with paper towels.
− To sanitize surfaces, use a solution of regular household bleach and warm water. Add about 1 tablespoon of bleach to 2 gallons of water for the right concentration. Sanitize by first washing and rinsing the surface and then immerse, spray or swab with the bleach solution.
− Separate raw foods from ready-to-eat foods. Use different cutting boards or wash, rinse and sanitize after contact with raw meat, poultry and seafood. Never use the same plate to transport the cooked hamburgers that was used for the raw hamburger patties.
− Handle all cut melons carefully, including cantaloupe and watermelon. Thoroughly clean the outer surface before slicing, and keep work surface and utensils used to prepare the melon clean and sanitized. Refrigerate sliced melon promptly at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
− Be sure to wash all produce thoroughly before use.
− Cook food to the proper internal temperature:
Ground beef - 160 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds
Poultry and stuffed meats - 165 degrees F for 15 seconds
Pork products - 150 degrees F for 15 seconds
Reheating leftovers - 165 degrees F for 15 seconds
− Always check the internal temperature of cooked foods with a metal-stemmed thermometer and cook another 15 seconds after the thermometer indicates it has reached the proper temperature.
− Within two hours, cool and maintain leftovers at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, or freeze at zero degrees or lower.
“When in doubt, throw it out,” said William Hacker, M.D., DPH commissioner. “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”