08-02-2011 (Dayton, OH) -
The recent salmonella outbreak cases, including 10 in Ohio and an 11-year-old child in the Dayton area, are a good reminder to take caution when handling and preparing foods.
Proper food preparation protects children and adults against food borne illnesses from bacteria such asE. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Listeria(which can cause diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, and dehydration).
You can keep your family safe by using safety precautions in selecting foods in the grocery store, storing them properly and cooking them safely, plus cleaning up well afterward.
Dayton Children’s reminds you about the following tips to keep your kitchen safe and free from food borne illnesses:
Buying safe food is the first step. To ensure freshness, refrigerated items (such as meat, dairy, eggs, and fish) should be put in your cart last. Keep meats separate from other items, especially produce. If your drive home is longer than 1 hour, consider putting these items in a cooler to keep them fresh.
When purchasing packaged meat, poultry or fish, check the expiration date on the label. Even if the expiration date is still acceptable, don't buy fish or meat that smells or looks strange.
Also check inside egg cartons — make sure the eggs, which should be grade A or AA, are clean and free from cracks. Avoid purchasing fruit with broken skin, unpasteurized ciders or juices and pre-stuffed fresh turkeys or chickens.
Refrigerating and Freezing
Before you put the groceries away, check the temperature of your refrigerator and freezer. Your refrigerator should be set for 40º F (5º C) and your freezer should be set to 0º F (–18º C) or lower. Cooler temperatures will help keep bacteria in your foods from multiplying.
Proper handling and cooking guidelines will help prevent food borne illnesses in your family:
Preparing and Cooking Fruits and Vegetables
- Wash all fruits and vegetables with plain running water (even if you plan on peeling them) to remove any pesticide residue, dirt, or bacteria. Scrub firm produce, such as carrots, cucumbers, or melons, with a clean produce brush.
- Wash melons, such as cantaloupes and watermelons, before eating to avoid carrying bacteria from the rind to the knife to the inside of the fruit.
- Remove the outer leaves of leafy greens, such as spinach or lettuce.
Preparing and Cooking Raw Meat, Poultry, Fish, and Egg Products
- Wash your hands with hot water and soap before preparing foods and after handling raw meat, poultry, fish or egg products.
- Keep raw meats and their juices away from other foods in the refrigerator and on countertops.
- Designate one cutting board for raw meat, poultry and fish.
- Use separate utensils for cooking and serving raw meat, poultry, fish or eggs.
- Never put cooked food on a dish that was holding raw meat, poultry or fish.
- Thaw meat, poultry and fish in the refrigerator or microwave, never at room temperature.
- Cook thawed meat, poultry, and fish immediately.
- Throw away any leftover uncooked meat, poultry, or fish marinades.
- Remove stuffing from poultry after cooking and store it separately in the refrigerator.
- Do not allow raw eggs to sit at room temperature for more than 2 hours to reduce the risk of Salmonella infection.
- Thoroughly cook eggs and never serve foods that contain raw eggs, such as uncooked cookie dough, homemade eggnog, mousse and homemade ice cream. If you want to use these recipes, substitute pasteurized eggs (found in the grocery store's dairy case) for raw eggs.
- Cook meat until the juices run clear.
- Cook ground beef or poultry until it's no longer pink.
Use a meat thermometer to tell whether meats are cooked thoroughly. (Place the thermometer in the thickest portion of the meat and away from bones or fat and wash the probe between uses.) Most thermometers indicate at which temperature the type of meat is safely cooked, or you can refer to these recommendations:
- poultry (whole, pieces, and ground): 165º F (73.8º C)
- whole cuts (steaks, roasts and chops) of beef, veal, pork and lamb: 145º F (62.7º C) with a 3-minute rest period before carving or eating
- ground beef, veal, pork and lamb: 160º F (71º C)
- fish: 145º F (62.7º C)
- egg dishes: 160º F (71º C)
- leftovers: at least 165º F (74º C)
When cooking, broiling or grilling meats on the stove, turn them over at least once. In the microwave, cover all meats and:
- Turn patties over, stir or rotate foods halfway through cooking. Cook large pieces of meat on medium (50%) power for longer periods to ensure meat is cooked in center.
- Cooking times may vary so use a food thermometer to be sure food has reached a safe minimum internal temperature.
- Always allow standing time, which completes the cooking, before checking the internal temperature with a food thermometer.
Clean food is just one part of the food safety equation. You also need to be sure that your kitchen surfaces and your hands are clean to prevent the spread of bacteria.
- Refrigerate any leftovers as soon as possible after cooking.
- Consume leftovers within 3 to 4 days or throw them out.
- Wash cutting boards separately from other dishes and utensils in hot, soapy water.
- Don't use old cutting boards with cracks or deep gouges because bacteria may hide in the crevices of the board.
- Wash your hands if they come in contact with raw meat, poultry or fish.
- Don't use a dish towel to wipe your hands after handling raw meat, poultry, fish or eggs — use paper towels instead.
- After preparing food, wipe your kitchen counters and other exposed surfaces with hot soapy water or a commercial or homemade cleaning solution. Consider using paper towels to clean surfaces.
- Because sponges stay wet longer and their porous quality attracts bacteria, experts recommend using a thinner dishrag that can dry between uses instead of a sponge.
- Wash dirty dishrags and towels in hot soapy water.
- Periodically sanitize your kitchen sink, drain and garbage disposal by pouring in a commercial or homemade cleaning solution.
Finally, hand washing is a powerful way to guard against salmonella and other food- borne infections, so it's essential to teach kids to wash their hands, particularly after trips to the bathroom and before handling food in any way.
Taking these simple precautions can reduce the chance of food borne illnesses in your family.
What if you suspect salmonella?
A salmonella infection generally causes nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea (sometimes bloody), fever, and headache. Because many different kinds of illnesses can cause these symptoms, a stool sample may be taken to make an accurate diagnosis. For more information visit www.childrensdayton.org.
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