As people prepare for Fourth of July barbeques and picnics, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reminding people about food safety tips that can help reduce the risk of foodborne illness, commonly called food poisoning.
“Each year about 1 in 6 Americans get sick from food poisoning,” said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D. “To avoid foodborne illness, remember these four tips―clean, separate, cook, and chill.”
Wash with soap and water your hands, utensils, cutting boards, counter tops, and any area where you prepare food, especially after handling raw meat. Rinse all fresh fruits and vegetables under running water.
Raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can spread germs to foods that are ready-to-eat, such as hamburger or hot dog buns, chips, crackers, cheese, and cookies. Make sure to keep these foods separate. When taking food off of the grill, use clean utensils and plates. Don’t put cooked food on the same plate that held raw meat or poultry.
Make sure to cook your food to a safe temperature. You can’t always tell if food has been safely cooked by looking at it, so use a thermometer.
165°F – all poultry and pre-cooked meats, like hot dogs
160°F – hamburgers and other ground beef
145°F – whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and veal (stand-time of 3 minutes at this temperature)
145°F – fish
Leaving food out too long at room temperature can cause bacteria to grow that can cause foodborne illness. Never leave food out of refrigeration more than two hours. If you’re outside or the temperature is above 90ºF, food should not be left out more than one hour. Place food in containers on ice. Keep cold foods at or below 40ºF.
Bacteria grow most rapidly between 40ºF and 140ºF, doubling in number in as few as 20 minutes. This temperature range is often called the “Danger Zone.” Make sure to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
The most common foodborne illnesses are norovirus, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, and Campylobacter. Symptoms of food poisoning include vomiting and diarrhea, but in some cases, life-threatening complications such as organ failure occur.
Contact your doctor or health care provider if you have:
A fever over 101.5°F
Frequent vomiting that prevents you from keeping liquids down
Signs of dehydration, including a decrease in urination, a dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up
Diarrheal illness that lasts more than three days
For more information about food safety, go to https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/groups/consumers.html. Also, check out information about summer safety, “Summer? No Sweat. A Summer Survival Guide” at www.dph.illinois.gov.