Be careful what you eat at the backyard barbecue
Summer break often leads to backyard BBQ’s and family gatherings. These get-togethers are times of celebration, filled with good food and ample drinks. However, when you’re hosting a potluck event, make sure you and your guests prepare food safely. The CDC estimates that 1 in 6 American’s get sick from eating contaminated food each year. As you get ready for your next family gathering, follow the below tips to avoid a trip to the hospital.
“BBQ’s and potlucks can be a breeding ground for food poisoning and contamination,” said Dennis Kan MS, RN, CIC, Pediatric Infection Control Practitioner “Not only are you relying on others to safely and cleanly prepare food you’re about to eat, once it’s there and the party is in full-swing, perishables sit out too long, growing all kinds of bacteria that have the ability to make you sick.”
Wash your hands
Even if you are not sick, your hands carry germs. Before preparing any food or drink, wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Use a paper towel to shut off a facet or open a door. If soap and water are not available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol). Even if the germs on your hands don’t get you sick, you can give them to others who have more vulnerable immune systems such as elderly or infants/small children.
Keep cold foods cold, and hot foods hot
Food poisoning is common during the summer months with the picnics and celebration potlucks. Make sure to keep cooked foods separate from raw food to prevent cross-contamination. Refrigerate perishable foods within two hours, one hour on hot days averaging temperatures above 90 degrees. Remember, bacteria can multiply rapidly if left out too long. If there’s any doubt, throw it out.
Wash the surface of your fruits and vegetable
Salmonella bacteria is a common foodborne illness and develops within six to 28 hours of eating contaminated food. You can prevent Salmonella by washing your fruits and vegetable before you cut or peel them. Use a clean scrub brush to clean produce, including clearing the rough skin on foods like cantaloupe and other melons. Yes, you even need to clean the outside of melons. Make sure to use dedicated, not porous cutting boards for raw foods, coordinating them by colors such as red for raw meats and green for fruit and vegetables.
If you are sick, stop the spread
Don’t prepare food and stay home. Illnesses such as norovirus are easily transmissible and can last up to two weeks even if you are no longer symptomatic. To help rid your home of an illness, use bleach to disinfect surfaces such as counters, frequently touched objects like doorknobs, cabinets and TV remotes, and wash all dirty towels and linens immediately.
“If you do find yourself sick from a recent BBQ or family picnic,” said Kan. “Get in to see your primary care physician or go to a Legacy GoHealth Urgent Care immediately.”
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