Food safety should always be a priority, and with summer picnics and park cookouts happening, it’s a good time to remember how to prevent food-borne illnesses. The CDC estimates that every year 48 million people fall sick from a food-borne illness. This is preventable if proper care is taken to cook and store food properly and minimize the chance of contamination. Knowing and putting a few safety tips into practice can help keep you and your family safe this summer.
Visit AFC Urgent Care Bedford if you find yourself ill with a food-borne illness. Our providers can prescribe treatment and provide resources to help with at-home care. Visit our center any day this summer for urgent treatment.
How Food Poisoning is Caused
Food poisoning can be caused by several contaminants, including:
Bacteria is the most significant source of food poisoning, with dangerous bacteria like E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella being common culprits. According to the CDC, in the United States, Salmonella food poisoning is a big problem that causes roughly 1.35 million infections, 26,500 hospitalizations, and 420 deaths each year. Two lesser-known bacteria that can contaminate food are Campylobacter and C. botulinum.
Parasites are also responsible for food poisoning though less common than instances of bacterial food poisoning. The parasite toxoplasmosis is the most common type of parasite that lurks in foods. Parasites aren’t always detected immediately and take up residence in the intestine for years without notice.
Viruses can cause food-borne illnesses, and the norovirus, also called the Norwalk virus, is responsible for roughly 23 million cases of food-borne diseases each year in the U.S. Food contaminated with norovirus could prove fatal if consumed.
Food Safety Tips
- Wash hands before and after cooking with warm water and soap and water and after handling meat or other raw products.
- Separate raw foods, like vegetables and fruits, from cooked foods whether in the fridge, kitchen or during transport.
- Your cooler should be kept cold with roughly a quarter of its space filled with ice and the food inside kept at a temperature of 40°F or below. Maintain a cold and stable temperature inside your cooler by keeping it closed. Having a thermometer for your cooler is a big plus.
- Ensure that meat is cooked at the appropriate internal temperature- beef burgers at 160°F and chicken at 165°F. Have a meat thermometer to check the temperature.
Proper food preparation and handling procedures should be observed when making and consuming food inside or outside of the home. It’s critical to prevent contamination that could lead to food-borne illnesses. Get treatment right away if you suspect that you may be experiencing food poisoning or other food-borne illness.