As summer heats up, stay healthy by keeping your food safe in the outdoors

FoodonGrill

Idaho summers are full of sunshine, warm temperatures, and long days. That means it is more likely you will be cooking and eating outdoors, whether you are backcountry camping, whitewater rafting or enjoying a family picnic in a local park. That presents some food safety challenges. As food heats up in the warm temperatures, bacteria multiply faster and could make you sick if your food isn’t handled properly.

What are the main culprits for foodborne illness when eating outdoors?

We’re talking about communicable diseases like salmonella, norovirus, E. coli and other gastrointestinal illnesses that can be caused by improperly storing, cooking or serving food, and then can spread rapidly in a group that is sharing close quarters or eating together and not practicing good hygiene and safe food handling.

What are some of the symptoms of those diseases?

For most people, symptoms of food poisoning include vomiting and diarrhea, but in some cases, life-threatening complications like organ failure can occur. Young children, pregnant women, adults over 65, and people with weak immune systems are more likely to get food poisoning, and if they do get sick they might have more severe symptoms. Continue reading

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Food safety: How to make sure your holiday treats don’t make anyone sick

HolidayFoodSafetyCDC

Several food safety alerts and recalls this season have made it difficult to know what’s safe to eat. Even though we can’t do much personally to control those national events except to pay attention and not consume recalled products, we can take some basic food safety actions, both as a guest and as a host, so we don’t add insult to injury. Nearly 1 in 6 Americans get sick each year from contaminated food, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Reducing that number by just 10 percent would keep nearly 5 million people from getting sick each year.

What is the most common cause of food poisoning?

There are more than 250 agents that can cause foodborne illness including viruses, bacteria, parasites, toxins, and foreign objects. Norovirus is the most common virus to cause food poisoning, while salmonella is the most common bacterial cause and results in more deaths than infections with other bacteria.

Are there certain foods we should avoid at gatherings?

Contaminated leafy greens, such as romaine lettuce, and undercooked poultry are the main culprits for foodborne disease. But illness can come from lots of different types of foods, including raw milk, raw eggs (as in eggnog), and undercooked meat. You should wash your hands with soap and water before and after preparing, serving, or eating food, and always cook foods to a safe internal temperature. Also, be sure to thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables before you serve or eat them. Continue reading

Reports of Shiga-toxin producing E. Coli (STEC) food poisoning on the rise in SW Idaho

FS__08_Under5_Kidney_Tips_1080x1080Today we’re talking about food poisoning, and a serious increase in STEC cases in Southwest Idaho – What the heck is STEC?

So, the past month was National Food Safety Month and coincidentally here in Southwest Idaho, the Department of Health and Welfare along with our local public health district partners have had an unusually large number of reports about infections caused by Shiga-toxin producing E. Coli – or STEC for short –that has resulted in several hospitalizations of very young children, so now’s a good time to understand what STEC is, what to watch for and how to reduce the risk of infection to yourself or your children. Continue reading

Camp cooks: As summer heats up, protect yourself & your family from foodborne illness

ucm567102Summer in Idaho means sunshine, warm weather and long days, with lots of opportunities to cook and eat outdoors, whether you are backcountry camping, whitewater rafting or enjoying a family picnic in the local park. But as food heats up in the warm weather months, bacteria multiply faster, creating a risk of foodborne illness. So, we thought it was a good time to talk about safe food handling when cooking or eating outdoors. Continue reading

Washing hands often can ward off norovirus, the ‘Winter Vomiting Bug’

how-get-norovirus-lgYou may have seen in the news last month that more than 500 people fell ill to norovirus on two separate cruise ships, bringing to 12 the number of major outbreaks of this nasty virus aboard ocean-liners in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That may lead you to think that norovirus is something you only risk on a cruise ship. But there’s actually a better chance you’ll be infected in restaurants, long-term care facilities like nursing homes and in other places where people gather and share bathrooms – day cares, schools, camps, and big events. Norovirus is also known as the “winter vomiting bug,” so it’s a good time to talk about reducing your risk. Continue reading

Spread joy not germs! Practice food safety at your holiday party this season

healthy-family_-squareHoliday parties will offer a tempting array of goodies this winter, but it’s important to remember the basic food safety rules, both as a guest and as a host. Nearly 1 in 6 Americans (or about 48 million) get sick each year from contaminated food, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Reducing that number by just 10 percent would keep nearly 5 million people from getting sick each year. Continue reading

Shining a light on safety before, during & after the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse

idUnless you’ve been living on the dark side of the moon, you’ve probably heard about the total solar eclipse occurring the morning of Aug. 21 in Idaho. So, it’s a good time to talk about preparation and safety before, during, and after this historic event that’s expected to draw up to hundreds of thousands of viewers to the state. Continue reading