Make food safety a priority
BISMARCK, N.D. – North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) encourages residents to take precautions to prevent foodborne illness, commonly known as food poisoning. Each year, one in six people in the United States will get sick from eating contaminated food, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Safe handling, preparation, and storage of food can help prevent foodborne illness due to contaminants such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, and toxins.
“Food safety is always important, especially when preparing and serving large quantities of food for potlucks, fundraisers, parties, and holiday gatherings,” said Laura Cronquist, epidemiologist with the NDDoH. “While foodborne illness can affect anyone, people at highest risk for severe illness include young children, pregnant women, people 65 years and older, and those with long-term health conditions.”
The NDDoH recommends the following food safety tips to keep you, your family, and your friends healthy:
- Practice good hand hygiene. Always wash your hands with soap and clean, running water for at least 20 seconds before, during, and after preparing food and before eating.
- Keep raw poultry and meat separate from other foods. Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs.
- Cook food thoroughly. Meat, chicken, turkey, seafood, and eggs can carry germs that cause foodborne illness. Use a food thermometer to ensure these foods have been cooked to a safe internal temperature.
- Review safe internal cooking temperatures for various foods at www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/safe-minimum-cooking-temperature.
- Keep hot foods at 140 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer. Use chafing dishes, slow cookers, and warming trays to keep foods at a safe temperature on the table.
- Keep cold foods at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Place plates of cold food on ice to retain the chill.
- Be aware of the two-hour rule – foods should not sit at room temperature for more than two hours. Discard any perishable foods that have been sitting out for two hours or more.
- Use shallow containers to allow quick cooling of cooked foods in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Avoid preparing food for others when sick with vomiting or diarrhea and for at least two days after symptoms stop.
Common symptoms of foodborne illness include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. The NDDoH advises consulting a health care provider if you have signs of severe illness, including bloody diarrhea, fever higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit, frequent vomiting, dehydration, or diarrhea that lasts more than three days.
To learn more about food safety or to report a possible foodborne illness, please contact the NDDoH Division of Disease Control at 701-328-2378.