Sunday, July 01, 2007

Food Safety for the 4th of July

One uninvited guest will ruin many people’s picnics this summer — food poisoning bacteria.
There are 76 million reported illnesses in the United States alone each year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And six to eight million result in death.
Those cases more than double during the summer months as the hot weather promotes bacteria growth on foods like coleslaw sitting out in the sun.

“The good news is the most cases are preventable with proper care,” noted Dr. Anthony Hilton, a microbiologist with Aston University in Birmingham, England.

Of the diagnosed incidents of food-borne illness with an identified cause, fifty-five percent are the result of improper cooking and storage and 24% are from poor hygiene (not washing hands before and during food handling). Only 3% are due to an unhealthy food source.
Still, three percent of 76 million is over two million poisonings a year. According to Robert Tauxe, MD, deputy director at the CDC, most of the prevalent cases of mass food contamination in the US have been from produce. (Remember last year’s e-coli-tainted spinach and Taco-Bell’s diseased lettuce?) “Produce that grows close to the soil tends to be more susceptible, including leafy greens, tomatoes, green onions/scallions,” he said. Cantaloupe is especially vulnerable.

To minimize risk, Dr. Tauxe advises consumers to avoid bagged, premixed vegetables and fruits. “All that cutting, chopping, packing and mixing of produce from many places increases the chances of contamination.” He also suggests that all produce, even the ‘triple-washed’ ones, are scrubbed in your own sink at home before eating.

The majority of potential food poisonings can be eliminated with cleanliness and by following a few other food rules. “It is imperative that chilled food is properly stored in the refrigerator,” said Dr. Hilton. Overloading the fridge will prevent cold air from circulating and not keep food chilled. Keep raw meats at the bottom of the fridge so that juices do not drip onto other foods. Always cook meat thoroughly. Juices should run clear. No pink meat inside. Wash your hands and kitchen surfaces often. Do not use the same utensils on raw and cooked foods. Do not leave food out for more than two hours. Food should be reheated only once and it needs to be fully re-cooked, not just warmed. If you see mold or fungus on food, do not trim is away. Discard the entire food. For every bit of contamination you see, there are more bacteria you can not see.
Be extra careful when serving the elderly, young children, pregnant women or anyone with a compromised immune system. They are most susceptible to food illnesses. Thaw foods in the refrigerator or microwave. Marinate foods in the refrigerator.

These foods need extra caution: Eggs — cook until the yolks are firm. Never eat anything containing raw egg. Cheese — keep refrigerated until serving. Take special care with soft varieties. Fruit juice — only drink pasteurized. Milk and other dairy products — again, pasteurized and chilled. Do not ignore the ‘sell by’ date.

Some food poisoning can be severe. It may cause meningitis, miscarriage, paralysis or even death. Most cases are mild. Symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, a slight fever and vomiting that starts within two to 24 hours after the bacteria was ingested. The best treatment is bed rest and plenty of fluids. And with proper food handling, the only uninvited guest at your summer picnic this year will be the nosy neighbor.

I found this article on one of Dr. Blaylock's pages....

Note from Lucy: OK everyone, take care this 4th of July to keep your foods safe from bacteria and food poisoning. I am hoping that the rain stays away long enough that we will be able to go up to the Woodlands to listen to the symphony and enjoy the fireworks. We have had rain every single day for the last two weeks. Our yard needs mowing but it is so wet that we can't get out there to do it.

TF was able to go to the Astros game on Thursday night and see history made. Craig Biggio became a member of the 3,000 club (hits) that night. A friend of his had an extra ticket to the game and invited him to go. He had such a good time and got to see something that you don't see everyday... I'll bet that Biggio makes it into the hall of fame on his first ballot...

TF's surgery is fast approaching and I am starting to get nervous....Keep a prayer in your hearts for the both of us.....


At 11:25 AM, Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

That's very very good advice about the food....Quite honestly, I try to follow that ALL the time as a precaution...And especially in the summertime!

I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers for that upcoming operation, my dear.

At 12:23 AM, Blogger Diane J. said...

I'm very conscious of the dangers of food poisoning. I did take the time to refresh my memory here, though.

July 6th for the surgery, hmm? I hope all goes well, Lucy. :-)

Have a great 4th and a wonderful week.



At 10:08 AM, Blogger Oh great One said...

Take care and be safe this 4th!

At 6:25 PM, Blogger Granny Annie said...

Hello Lucy. Thank you for dropping by my blog. Have you ever done an article on what perfect food that eggs are? So nicely contained in perfect wrappers and especially delicious when cooked properly and especially wonderful from free range chickens! It's nice to know you.

At 7:37 AM, Blogger LZ Blogger said...

With a message from the CDC, one is best to at least think about what we eat on the 4th. Have a GREAT 4th of July! ~ jb///

At 9:06 AM, Blogger Babette said...

Duly noted!

Prayers for TF!

At 9:34 AM, Blogger Merle said...

Hi Lucy ~~ Good post to remind us to take care while handling food etc.
I hope your husband's surgery goes really well and that he makes a quick recovery. Thanks for your comments
glad you liked the puppies and jokes.
Take care, my friend, will be thinking of you both on the 6th.
Love, Merle.

At 11:24 AM, Blogger Big Dave T said...

Our second son came down with salmonella (food poisoning) when he was just an infant. We still believe he got it at the hospital where he was delivered.

At 1:53 PM, Blogger Lucy Stern said...

oldoldladyofthe hills - The heat of summer makes food poisioning even greater, you are right. Thanks for your prayers.

Diane j - Very busy weekend ahead with the 4th, then TF's surgery and my nephew's wedding the next day....

Oh great one - same to you lady.

granny annie - got some free range eggs just the other day. I wonder how much different they will taste from regular eggs. I cooked about eight eggs just yesterday to make an egg salad.

lzblogger - have a great fourth to you too.

babette - thanks or the prayers.

merle - loved the jokes about the preachers ass....especially the one about the nun with the best ass in town....thanks about thinking about us on the 6th. We need all the prayers we can get.

big dave - food poisoning is no fun especilly for babies. It is amazing what you can pick up at the hospitals....We will be on the lookout for TF while he is in there.

At 2:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll keep this in mind when we throw my son's graduation party ont he 15th.


At 9:13 PM, Blogger MyUtopia said...

Happy Fourth!!

At 1:47 PM, Blogger Jamie Dawn said...

I'm glad TF enjoyed the Astros game and got to see Biggio's hit.

Thanks for all the advice on food safety. I am a fanatic about that because food poisoning can really be awful.

Enjoy your holilday!!!

At 12:50 AM, Blogger Merle said...

Hi again Lucy ~~ I hope your husband's surgery went well and he
is on the way to recovery.
Take care, my friend, Love, Merle.

At 12:55 PM, Blogger Carmi said...

Your timely advice is always very much appreciated, Lucy.

Hope the surgery went well. Thinking of you all.


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