(PRWEB) June 03, 2011
Summer time always brings a spike in foodborne illnesses, which are especially troublesome for at-risk populations such as infants and young children, pregnant women, older adults and people with weakened immune systems caused by cancer treatment, diabetes, AIDS and bone marrow and organ transplants. Why does food poisoning spike the same time temperatures spike? Higher temperatures cause natural bacteria—microrganisms—to grow more quickly. Many foodborne bacteria grow fastest at temperatures that are between 90 degrees and 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Summer weather is hot and humid and the humidity gives bacteria the much needed moisture to grow. Also, an increase in outdoor activities such as barbeques, camping trips and picnics prompt people to prepare, cook and eat outdoors, away from the kitchen’s washing, cooking and refrigeration facilities. Valerie Adegunleye, MS, RD, site manager for Nutrition & Food Service and a Certified Serve-Safe Instructor at the VA Maryland Health Care System, says that four easy steps—clean, separate, cook and chill—can prevent harmful bacteria from making your friends and family sick this summer. It is time to fight back against foodborne illnesses by implementing these simple precautions!
Simple Precautions to Help Prevent Food Poisoning
Prevent Illness by Washing Hands Frequently
Cook Meats Thoroughly
The safest way to ensure meats are cooked well enough is to use a food thermometer.
Consider serving chicken that has been precooked and chilled or cooking chicken pieces in advance by boiling or microwaving in your kitchen before barbecuing. Take-out chicken is also a potential hazard if not kept hot or completely chilled before serving.
Prepare Salads Properly
While mayonnaise has been implicated as a cause of food poisoning, the real culprits in salads are the other ingredients (such as potatoes, eggs, pasta, and tuna) that are often combined with mayonnaise before being thoroughly chilled and then left at room temperature for several hours. Bacteria can be introduced and multiply while ingredients are warm. Thoroughly chill salad ingredients, including mayonnaise, before combining. Even canned tuna needs to be pre-chilled, unless you will be eating it immediately after opening the can.
Transport potato, macaroni and other salads on ice to keep them cold. When outdoors, consider nesting the salad bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice.
Wash Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Store Leftovers Properly
Cook and Clean Properly
The VA Maryland Health Care System (VAMHCS) provides a broad spectrum of medical, surgical, rehabilitative, mental health and outpatient care to Veterans at two medical centers, one community living & rehabilitation center and five outpatient clinics located throughout the state. More than 52,000 Veterans from various generations receive care from the VAMHCS annually. Nationally recognized for its state-of-the-art technology and quality patient care, the VAMHCS is proud of its reputation as a leader in Veterans’ health care, research and education. It costs nothing for Veterans to enroll for health care with the VA Maryland Health Care System and it could be one of the more important things a Veteran can do. For information about VA health care eligibility and enrollment or how to apply for a VA medical care hardship to avoid future copayments for VA health care, interested Veterans are urged to call the Enrollment Center for the VA Maryland Health Care System, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 1-800-463-6295, ext. 7324 or visit http://www.maryland.va.gov.
Pager (410) 447-4523
# # #