When the weather is great and holidays are here it is the perfect time to enjoy eating outdoors. Many will be grilling for the first time over Memorial Day weekend. During fun time outdoors it is still important to be careful with foods, natural bacteria can grow and multiply, increasing the risk for food-borne illnesses such as salmonella and staphylococcus.
According to Ashley Dosher, a dietetic intern at Good Samaritan Regional Health Center, there are many things that can contribute to food borne illness, most all cases can be attributed to cross contamination, improper storage and cooking temperatures and inadequate hand washing practices. The good news is that most food borne illnesses can be prevented by using the proper food safety precautions. Before firing up the grill this weekend keep these four things in mind:
1. Remember to wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least twenty seconds before, during and after food preparation.
2. Never use the same utensils, plates or cutting boards for raw and cooked foods. Raw meats and their juices may contain harmful bacteria that can contaminate cooked foods.
3. Ensure that all meats are cooked to the proper temperatures using a meat thermometer. Steak should be cooked to 145°F, hamburgers to 160°F and chicken to 165°F.
4. Don't leave food out for extended periods of time. To prevent bacterial growth, it is important to keep foods stored above 140 ̐F or below 40 ̐F.
To learn even more about proper food preparation, including grilling safety and how to keep your food safe outdoors read through the information at these websites:
It is no longer fun when a food-related illness strikes which often includes diarrhea, vomiting, and in some cases severe dehydration. The Center for Disease Control reports there are 76 million cases of food-borne illnesses each year in the United States, which includes 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths.
Take the advice of Ms. Dosher and the staff at St. Mary’s Hospital and Good Samaritan Regional Health Center, stay safe and enjoy time with your family and loved ones. Take extra precautions during the grilling season.