According to the CDC, you can get food poisoning after swallowing food that has been contaminated with a variety of germs (bacteria, viruses, parasites) or toxic substances (molds, contaminants). After you eat the contaminated food there is a delay before symptoms of food poisoning begin. This delay may range from hours to days, depending on the germ and on how many germs you swallowed.
The most common symptoms of food poisoning include upset stomach, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and dehydration. Symptoms may range from mild to severe and may differ depending on the germ that is making you sick. Severe cases of food poisoning can cause long-term health problems or death. Do your family a favor this year.
The Yavapai County Community Health Services takes food poisoning very serious so in cooperation with the CDC we have put out this simple graphic to help you remember the basics of food safety this holiday season.
Clean - Wash hands and surfaces often. Illness-causing bacteria can survive in many places around your kitchen, including your hands, utensils, and cutting boards. Unless you wash your hands, utensils, and surfaces the right way, you could spread bacteria to your food, and your family. Follow these top tips to keep your family safe:
Wash hands the right way—for 20 seconds with plain soap and running warm water. Wash surfaces and utensils after each use. Wash fruits and veggies—but not meat, poultry, or eggs!
Separate - Don’t cross-contaminate. Even after you’ve cleaned your hands and surfaces thoroughly, raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can still spread illness-causing bacteria to ready-to-eat foods (salads, prepared food, etc.)—unless you keep them separate.
Use separate cutting boards and plates for produce and for meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. Placing ready-to-eat food on a surface that held raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs can spread bacteria and make you sick. But stopping cross-contamination is simple.
Keep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods at the grocery store. Make sure you aren’t contaminating foods in your grocery bag as well. At the checkout, place raw meat, poultry, and seafood in plastic bags to keep their juices from dripping on other foods.
Keep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods in the fridge. Bacteria can spread inside your fridge if the juices of raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs drip onto ready-to-eat foods. Place raw meat, poultry, and seafood in containers or sealed plastic bags to prevent their juices from dripping or leaking onto other foods. If you’re not planning to use these foods within a few days, freeze them instead. Keep eggs in their original carton and store them in the main compartment of the refrigerator—not in the door. Store meats near the bottom of the fridge and ready to eat foods toward the top.
Cook to the right temperature. Did you know that the bacteria that cause food poisoning multiply quickest in the “Danger Zone” between 40˚ and 140˚ Fahrenheit? And while many people think they can tell when food is “done” simply by checking its color and texture, there’s no way to be sure it’s safe without following a few important but simple steps.
Use a food thermometer. Cooked food is safe only after it’s been heated to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria. Color and texture alone won’t tell you whether your food is done. Instead, use a food thermometer to be sure. Compare your thermometer reading to our Minimum Cooking Temperatures Chart to be sure it’s reached a safe temperature which can be found at YavapaiHealth.com.
Keep food hot after cooking (at 140 ˚F or above). The possibility of bacterial growth actually increases as food cools after cooking because the drop in temperature allows bacteria to thrive. But you can keep your food above the safe temperature of 140˚F by using a heat source like a chafing dish, warming tray, or slow cooker.
Chill - Refrigerate promptly. Did you know that illness-causing bacteria can grow in perishable foods within two hours unless you refrigerate them? (And if the temperature is 90 ˚F or higher during the summer, cut that time down to one hour!) Refrigerating foods promptly and properly, can help keep your family safe from food poisoning at home. Cold temperatures slow the growth of illness causing bacteria. So it’s important to chill food promptly and properly.
Never thaw or marinate foods on the counter. Since bacteria can multiply rapidly at room temperature, thawing or marinating foods on the counter is one of the riskiest things you can do when preparing food for your family.
Know when to throw food out. You can’t tell just by looking or smelling whether harmful bacteria has started growing in your leftovers or refrigerated foods. Be sure you throw food out before harmful bacteria grow by checking our Safe Storage Times chart found at www.YavapaiHealth.com .