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Tips To Avoid Food Borne Illnesses

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Most people do not think about food borne illness until they become ill from unknowingly consuming contaminated food. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year more than 76 million people suffer from foodborne illnesses that occur when they eat food that contains bacteria or a toxin produced by bacteria growing in the food left at room temperature for long periods of time. Given sufficient time, bacteria in food can grow and multiply depending on the type of food, the temperature at which it was held, its moisture content and its acidity level. Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) experiences an increase in the number of cases of food borne illnesses reported during the summer months. Below are a few tips to be food safe this summer:

•Purchase only government-inspected meat and poultry products. Purchase packages only if the “sell by” date has not expired and the packages are unopened.

•A true "Grill Master" always knows to clean, separate, cook and chill to ensure a pleasant cookout for all.

•Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.

•Always marinate foods in the refrigerator, not on the counter or outdoors. Don't use sauce that was used to marinate raw meat or poultry on cooked food. Boil used marinade before applying to cooked food.

•When grilling foods, preheat the coals on your grill for 20 or 30 minutes, or until the coals are lightly coated with ash.

•If you partially cook food in the microwave, oven or stove to reduce grilling time, do so immediately before the food goes on the hot grill.

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•When it's time to cook the food, cook it to a safe internal temperature. Use a food thermometer to be sure. Beef, veal and lamb steaks and roasts: 145 °F for medium rare, 160 °F for medium, and 170 °F for well done. Ground pork and ground beef: 160 °F. Poultry: to at least 165 °F. Shrimp, lobster and crabs: The meat should be pearly and opaque. Clams, oysters and mussels: Until the shells are open.

•Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs. Be sure to have on hand plenty of clean utensils and platters.

•Grilled food can be kept hot until served by moving it to the side of the grill rack, just away from the coals where it can overcook.

•Never let raw meat, poultry, eggs, cooked food or cut fresh fruits or vegetables sit at room temperature more than two hours before putting them in the refrigerator or freezer (one hour when the temperature is above 90 °F).

•Serving utensils should never touch raw meat and then other food. Use one serving utensil per dish.

•Wash fruit and vegetables before you eat them to ensure that they are clean, and that germs that might be on the outside are removed.

•Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared food and leftovers within two hours.

•Divide large amounts of leftovers into small, shallow containers for quick cooling in the refrigerator.