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Geneseo Republic - Geneseo, IL
RaeAnn Tucker-Marshall is the public information director of the Henry/Stark Health Departments.
Blog: How to keep summer food safe
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Rae-Ann Tucker-Marshall
Henry-Stark Health Department
July 10, 2013 10 a.m.

The Henry and Stark County Health Departments' Environmental Health

Division reminds area residents that summertime is outdoor activity time.

It's the season for community activities, festivals, and events, family

reunions, backyard barbecues and other friendly get-togethers. Therefore,

the Health Department would like to remind area residents that if you are

preparing to serve food to the Public through an event that is up to two

consecutive days and/or no more than 12 intermittent days in any calendar

year that you are required to register with the Health Department so that we

can better assist you in the sanitation standards of food preparation.

It's true that cooking and eating outside in the fresh air is fun for

everyone. Unfortunately, warm weather eating also brings out something else

less pleasant - food poisoning. To avoid such an unwelcome addition to any

picnic or cookout the Health Department Environmental Health Director,

Dorothy David notes the following:

* When at the grocer's, choose meat and poultry last. Bag your

selections with other cold items and get them home promptly. Don't leave

such food in the car while you run errands. If foods are allowed to get

warm, germs and pathogens that are present will begin to multiply."

* Once home, store soon-to-be-used meat and poultry items in the

refrigerator in their original store wrapper or rewrap in freezer foil and

stored in the deep freezer. This will shorten freezing time and also enable

them to be thawed more quickly later on by reducing the time needed between

thawing and cooking. What's more, meat and poultry products should never be

allowed to thaw at room temperature. Defrosting such items in the

refrigerator or microwave is a much safer practice.

* Pay close attention to how foods are prepared for cooking outdoors.

Wash all countertops, cutting boards and knives with hot soapy water before

and after using them for raw foods. Such "cross contamination" could be

unhealthy. Always wash hands before and after handling raw meat items.

* When packing up foods for a picnic or outing, place perishable items

including hot dogs, cheese and luncheon meats in a well insulated cooler and

cover with plenty of ice. Keep coolers in the shade and open them only when

necessary.

* While it is usually safe to store picnic leftovers in an ice filled

cooler, it's a good idea to package up remaining foods immediately after the

meal is finished. Food items left out at room temperatures for three hours

or more should be discarded, but those exposed to warmer outside

temperatures should be disposed of much sooner. Actually, the best rule to

follow is "when in doubt, throw it out."

David adds, "Food poisoning may often go undetected, as the symptoms

often mimic those of the flu and include headache, diarrhea, nausea,

vomiting and fever. However, food poisoning can be serious and anyone who

suspects that they have such a condition should consult their health care

professional right away."

The staff of the Health Department urges everyone to practice good food

handling habits before, during and after warm weather meals. Please

remember to send your completed food registration forms if you are serving

to the public. Help make summertime fun, delicious and safe. For more

information on the Health Department's Food Program visit our website at

www.henrystarkhealth.com or find us on Facebook at Henry and Stark County

Health Departments.

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