If your stomach bothers you, do you call it a “bug” and blame it on what you had for dinner last night?  It’s called “foodborne illness” and millions of people get it every year, particularly in warm, humid summer months. Here’s how you can help prevent it:

Know potential threats.  Here are some common culprits:  undercooked poultry (campylobacter); contaminated lunch meats (listeria); undercooked beef (e.coli); food touched by someone with the virus (norovirus); and raw eggs or contaminated produce (salmonella).

Be food safe by following these basic steps:

• Clean.  Wash your hands, utensils and surfaces in hot soapy water before and after you prepare food.

• Separate.  Keep raw meat, poultry and seafood away from other foods.

• Cook.  Cook food to the proper temperature and use a thermometer.

• Chill. Refrigerate prepared food and leftovers within two hours.

Then take it a step further:

• Wash all fruits/vegetables, even if you’re going to peel them. If you cut   something before washing it, you can transfer bacteria to the inside.

• Be picnic/barbeque savvy. Cook meats thoroughly on the grill; always use a thermometer to check internal temperature. Don’t let food sit out for more than an hour in hot weather.

• Don’t keep sliced deli meat for longer than 3-5 days. (Bacteria you can’t see or smell can grow in the fridge.)  Lower your risk by buying packaged lunch meats that contain antimicrobials.

• Buy pasteurized eggs.  (Look for a P on the carton or the eggs.)

• Disinfect cutting boards with 1 Tablespoon bleach per gallon of water.  Using more bleach can be harmful.

• Follow the “stand time” instructions after microwaving food.  The extra minutes cool the food to a safe internal temperature.

Check for recalls.  It seems like food items, farom eggs to ground beef, are being recalled every week. Go to www.foodsafety.gov/keep/recalls


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