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2003 News from Mecklenburg County

December 23, 2003

FOOD (SAFETY) FOR THOUGHT WHEN DOING HOLIDAY COOKING

Charlotte, NC - While we’re busy making last-minute preparations and grocery lists for our holiday meals, many of us don’t think about food safety until a food-related illness affects a family member or us.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 76 million people get sick, more than 300,000 are hospitalized and 5,000 die each year from foodborne illnesses.  Raw animal products like meat and poultry, eggs and fish are the foods most likely to be contaminated, but raw fruit and vegetable products may also become contaminated because of exposure to dirty water or when fertilized with animal manure.

Taking a few simple precautions can help reduce the risk of foodborne diseases and give you one less thing to worry about this holiday season.

· Cook meats, poultry, fish and eggs thoroughly. Use a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature of meats.  This is a good way to be sure that it is cooked sufficiently to kill bacteria.

· Separate foods to prevent cross-contamination. Wash hands, utensils, and cutting boards after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry and before they touch another food.  Put cooked meat on a clean platter, rather than back on one that held the raw meat. 

· Keep it clean.  Don’t be the source of foodborne disease or other illnesses. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before preparing and/or eating food.  Avoid preparing food for others if you are sick. 

· Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.  Bacteria can grow quickly at room temperature, so refrigerate leftover foods if they are not going to be eaten within two hours. 



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