Parties, family dinners, and other gatherings where food is served are all part of the holiday cheer. But the merriment can change to misery if food makes you or others ill.
Typical symptoms of foodborne illness are vomiting, diarrhea, and flu-like symptoms, which can start anywhere from hours to days after contaminated food or drinks are consumed.
The symptoms usually are not long-lasting in healthy people—a few hours or a few days—and usually go away without medical treatment. But foodborne illness can be severe and even life-threatening to anyone, especially those most at risk:
- older adults
- infants and young children
- pregnant women
- people with HIV/AIDS, cancer, or any condition that weakens their immune system
- people who take medicines that suppress the immune system; for example, some medicines for rheumatoid arthritis
The first rule of safe food preparation in the home is to keep everything clean.
- Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling any food. “For children, this means the time it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice,” says Davidson.
- Wash food-contact surfaces (cutting boards, dishes, utensils, countertops) with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item and before going on to the next item.
Don’t give bacteria the opportunity to spread from one food to another (cross-contamination).
- Keep raw eggs, meat, poultry, seafood, and their juices away from foods that won’t be cooked. Take this precaution while shopping in the store, when storing in the refrigerator at home, and while preparing meals.
- Keep fruits and vegetables that will be eaten raw separate from other foods such as raw meat, poultry or seafood—and from kitchen utensils used for those products.
Food is safely cooked when it reaches a high enough internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria.
- “Color is not a reliable indicator of doneness,”. Use a food thermometer to make sure meat, poultry, and fish are cooked to a safe internal temperature. To check a turkey for safety, insert a food thermometer into the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. The turkey is safe when the temperature reaches 165ºF. If the turkey is stuffed, the temperature of the stuffing should be 165ºF.
- Bring sauces, soups, and gravies to a rolling boil when reheating.
- When making your own eggnog or other recipe calling for raw eggs, use pasteurized shell eggs,
Refrigerate foods quickly because harmful bacteria grow rapidly at room temperature.
- Refrigerate leftovers and takeout foods—and any type of food that should be refrigerated—within two hours. That includes pumpkin pie!
- Never defrost food at room temperature. Food can be defrosted safely in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave. Food thawed in cold water or in the microwave should be cooked immediately.
- Allow the correct amount of time to properly thaw food. For example, a 20-pound turkey needs four to five days to thaw completely when thawed in the refrigerator.
- Leftovers should be used within three to four days
To report a foodborne illness visit: https://health.utah.gov/phaccess/public/illness_report/
For more information about Food Service visit: https://tricountyhealth.com/environmental-health/food-service/