PIERRE, S.D. – Keep food safety in mind to prevent food-borne illness and make sure holiday gatherings don’t turn merriment to misery, says a state health official.
“Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for holiday pot-lucks at schools, churches, offices or other gatherings to result in food-borne outbreaks,” said Dr. Lon Kightlinger, epidemiologist for the South Dakota Department of Health. “To prevent food-borne illness wash, your hands thoroughly, cook and store foods at proper temperatures, and don’t prepare food when you’re sick.”
Food-borne illness symptoms can include mild or severe diarrhea, fever, vomiting and abdominal pain. Most people recover on their own without medication but some need fluids to prevent dehydration.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year food-borne illness sickens roughly one in six Americans, or 48 million people, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die.
Through the end of November in South Dakota, nearly 500 cases of the food-borne illnesses Salmonella (157), Campylybacter (266), and E. coli (45) had been reported for the year. In addition, several recent diarrheal outbreaks of Norovirus have been reported.
Dr. Kightlinger recommends the following steps when preparing holiday foods:
- Clean. Wash hands, cutting boards, utensils, and countertops.
- Separate. Keep raw meat and poultry separate from ready-to-eat foods.
- Cook. Cook foods to a safe temperature, using a food thermometer to check – 145°F for whole meats, 160°F for ground meats, 165°F for poultryand stuffing.
- Chill. Keep your refrigerator below 40°F, and refrigerate leftovers right away.
- When cooking large batches of food ahead of time, make sure to cool them quickly and reheat properly.
- Don’t lick the bowl if raw eggs are in the batter and don’t use raw eggs in your eggnog.
To learn more about food safety, check http://www.foodsafety.gov/