Summer is here with picnics, grilling, and yes, food-borne illnesses. E. coli, salmonella and other pathogens cause about 48 million food poisoning cases per year. Many more go undiagnosed.
Every year, 128,000 people are hospitalized and about 3,000 die from food poisoning. Food poisoning from contaminated or spoiled food leads to stomach upset, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Don’t take chances. Make sure food is safe.
The California Poison Control System (www.calpoison.org) shares some summer safety tips to prevent food poisoning:
• Wash cutting boards and countertops with hot, soapy water before and after preparing food.
• Cold and hot food keeps for two hours. After that, toss it out.
• Put picnic food in the shade. Keep plenty of ice or freezer blocks in the cooler.
• Keep cold foods cold, especially eggs, mayonnaise and dairy products.
• Keep everything clean – dishes, utensils, pans, flatware and cooking surfaces.
• Wash your hands before handling or cooking any food. Insist that children wash their hands before eating or handling food.
• When camping, make sure all meat, poultry and processed foods are cooked to a safe temperature — 160-165 degrees. Use a thermometer to be sure.
• Store and serve food only in containers meant for food. Never put non-food items in food containers.
• Lastly, keep the poison control number, (800) 222-1222 programmed into all phones. Call anytime, 24/7 for expert advice or questions.
For more information, visit www.calpoison.org or call Poison Control (the above number is the same in all states) for questions about poison encounters. Trained pharmacists, nurses and other providers are available to help 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The service is free, confidential and interpreters are available.