Don’t Be a Food Poisoning Statistic This Summer

Yeah, Summer’s here!

Break out the grill. Let’s party.

“Grilling out” is a uniquely American summer pastime. Who doesn’t have fond memories of summer picnics as a child, waiting for dad to burn our favorite dish to un-recognizable lump of charcoal on the grill?

But wait … let’s avoid food poisoning while we’re at it.

Food poisoning is more common than you might think:

  • Approximately 48 Million (!!) Americans are sickened by foodborne illness every year!
  • Roughly 128,000 are hospitalized as a result.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 3,000 people died due to food poisoning or foodborne illnesses in 2011.

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We live with staphylococcus on our hands. There is salmonella on many of our raw foods. Given an opportunity, these bugs will multiply and kill us.

Let’s not give them the opportunity!

So: Let’s avoid food poisoning while we’re enjoying our summer.

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Here’s How:

  1. Wash your hands often. Use hand sanitizers. The best ones use natural strong antiseptics like oil of Thyme, or oil of Peppermint.
  2. If you use hand sanitizer, most of them are highly flammable. Keep them away from the grill – we don’t want any people flambe’. Be sure your hands are dry after using hand sanitizer before moving to  the grill.
  3. Keep your grilling instruments, and your grill, clean.
  4. Similarly, keep your coolers and other food containers clean. Use a bleach solution to clean your cooler before uses.
  5. Refrigerate foods until grilled. Use a thermal pack and thermally insulated case instead of a classic “picnic basket”.
  6. Don’t allow foods to sit out on warm summer days. Any small amount of staph or other contaminants will multiply in the warmth. Result? Food poisoning.
  7. Be sure to cook foods to the recommended temperatures – especially meats! Use a food / meat thermometer if in doubt.
  8. Use separate utensils and platters, etc., for raw meats and cooked meats. For example: Don’t pile the cooked steaks back on the plate that you brought the raw steaks outside on, thinking that that blood adds to “the juices” on the cooked steaks. Think of anything that touched raw meat as contaminated.
  9. Similarly, marinade that raw meat has soaked in should NOT be used on the cooked product! Boil it first to kill the staph, salmonella, and other horrible contaminants.
  10. Use paper plates and paper towels. Don’t re-use of paper towels to spread potential contamination from the handling of raw meats to the cooked product; throw them away after handling of raw meats. Then hand sanitizer.
  11. BONUS TIP:  check out this web page on recommended food temperatures to avoid food poisoning!

Follow these 10 tips to stay healthy and enjoy your summer fully.

And avoid being one of the unfortunate food poisoning statistics this summer!

Please, be safe.

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Resources and Image Credits:

http://homefoodsafety.org/

Picnic basket: Creative Commons License, Credit Jeremy Noble: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Picnic_basket_01.jpg

Staph. aureus, by Janice Haney Carr, at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Image in public domain: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Staphylococcus_aureus_VISA_2.jpg

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Hi, I’m Russell Faust, author of this medical education blog.

Dr. Faust and friend

Dr. Faust and friend

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Until next time, remember … you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose (unless you’re a boogor doctor ;~D)

 

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