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

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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

Idaho health officials urge consumers to avoid eating soy nut butters and granola linked to E. coli illnesses as recall expands

Sixteen people in nine states, including Washington and Oregon, have become seriously ill after eating a soy nut butter product linked to a nationwide illness outbreak and food recall. To date, no illnesses linked to the outbreak have been reported in Idaho, but Idaho health officials are urging Idahoans to double-check their cupboards for I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter and other related products recalled after people who ate them became ill. These products may have been purchased in grocery stores in Idaho or on the Internet and distributed to schools, childcare centers, and other institutions.

State health departments, working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are investigating an ongoing outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) O157:H7 illnesses reported from several states.

Any variety or size of I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter, I.M. Healthy Granola, or Dixie Diner’s Club Carb Not Beanit Butter should not be served or eaten, regardless of the date of purchase or the date listed on the container.  Continue reading