This holiday weekend, the Florida Department of Health in Polk County (FDOH-Polk) encourages residents to properly prepare and store food in order to prevent foodborne-illness.
“Preventing foodborne-illness is an important way to keep your family safe and healthy during the holidays, as well as year round,” said Dr. Ulyee Choe, FDOH-Polk Director. “Everyone should practice four simple steps to stay healthy while preparing food: clean, cook, chill, and separate.”
An easy way to prevent foodborne-illness is to maintain a clean kitchen. Insist that any helping hands in the kitchen are cleaned thoroughly and often. Wash any objects that come in contact with raw poultry in hot soapy water – including hands, cutting boards, knives, etc. Also, be sure that all uncooked meat and poultry are prepared individually and separated from vegetables and cooked food. Keep all countertop and work areas clean with disinfectant spray. Those who may have experienced a gastrointestinal illness during the past two weeks should not prepare food for others.
Plan ahead to be sure you have enough time to fully prepare and cook your food. Meat and eggs should be cooked thoroughly to ensure any bacteria is killed. Using a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of meat is a good way to be sure it is cooked sufficiently. Thawing your food in the fridge reduces the risk of foodborne-illnesses from bacteria, which multiply quickly at room temperature or in warm environments.
Experts say you should chill leftovers within two hours of preparation. Leaving food out too long creates a prime breeding ground for bacteria. When storing leftovers, separate raw meats, poultry, eggs, and seafood into their own containers. Never leave food on the table, and always heat up leftovers to the proper temperature of 165 degrees. Be sure to throw away food that is cloudy or mushy, or food with an unusual odor. Always dispose of food from a leaking can, or food that changes appearance, color and/or shape over a period of time.
For more information on how to keep your family safe from foodborne-illness this holiday season please visit http://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/, http://www.fsis.usda.gov/ and http://www.fda.gov/.
If you experience a foodborne-illness please report it to your local county health department or file an online complaint at http://polk.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/environmental-health/sanitary-nuisances/index.html.