Don't Let Foodborne Illness Spoil Your Holiday Celebrations
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 5, 2013
URBANA, Ill. – As families begin preparing for the winter holidays, sharing
news and favorite recipes, they sometimes forget about the importance of food
safety, said a University of Illinois Extension nutrition and wellness
"According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one
in six persons suffers from foodborne illness in the United States each year.
That means 128,000 hospitalizations and about 3,000 deaths annually," said Laura
Barr said that the biggest threats of foodborne illness come from
person-to-food contamination or time and temperature abuse.
"Wash hands frequently, covering sores and keeping fingernails short, to
reduce the incidence of person-to-food contamination," she said.
Time and temperature controls ensure that bacteria cannot reproduce to
numbers that have the ability to make us sick, she added.
According to the CDC, the top five pathogens are norovirus, salmonella,
Clostridium perfringens, Campylobacter jejuni, and
Staphylococcus aureus in that order.
"To avoid transmitting norovirus, avoid food preparation for others. This
prevents person-to-food contamination. Also, remember to wash produce,
thoroughly cook shellfish, and disinfect food preparation utensils and counter
surfaces to stop norovirus in its tracks," Barr said.
Similarly, people who have salmonellosis should avoid preparing food for
others until their symptoms are gone. Salmonella is frequently found in raw
eggs, poultry, unpasteurized dairy products, meat, and unwashed produce, she
The CDC cautions, "Food prepared on surfaces that previously were in contact
with raw meat become unsafe. This is called cross-contamination." Salmonella is
destroyed by cooking foods to the correct temperature and by effective cleaning,
Clostridium perfringens is another culprit that dwells in
high-protein foods. It has the ability to change into spores—bacteria in a
dormant state—and these spores can change back to bacteria when the temperature
is right. This type of food poisoning is mostly caused by leaving potentially
hazardous foods in the danger zone—from 41 to 135Â°F—for more than two hours.
"Cool down large-batch foods (gravy, soup, sauce, and stew) quickly to
prevent illness. And reheat leftovers to at least 165Â°F for 15 seconds to
destroy bacteria," Barr advised.
The CDC identifies Campylobacter jejuni as one of the leading causes
of bacterial diarrhea sickness in the United States. The sources of
campylobacteriosis include raw and undercooked poultry, raw milk, untreated
water, and fecal waste. To prevent this infection, be sure to wash hands
frequently and never cross-contaminate raw foods with cooked foods, she
"Finally, Staphylococcus aureus is common in the environment and
resides in the nose and skin of some healthy adults. Staph becomes infective
when skin is broken, and it multiplies and spreads to others. Hand washing and
wound covering are critical to prohibit staph infections," Barr said.
Remember these simple habits to inhibit the spread of foodborne illness:
· Wash hands thoroughly before food preparation and in between tasks.
· Prepare raw meats separately from other foods.
· Keep wet and dry ingredients for stuffing separate until you are ready to
· Cook potentially hazardous foods in an oven set at 325°F or higher.
· Use a food thermometer.
· Cook turkey and stuffing to an internal temperature of 165Â°F for 15
· Refrigerate leftovers within two hours of serving.
"Take extra care this holiday season to keep your family safe while you are
enjoying meals and time together," Barr said.
Mekenzie Riley, Nutrition and Wellness Educator for Knox, McDonough,
Henderson and Warren Counties, shares a seasonal article written by fellow
educator, Laura Lynn Barr. Visit our website at
http://web.extension.illinois.edu/fmpt/ for information on upcoming extension
Source: Mekenzie Riley, MS, RD, Extension Educator, Nutrition and Wellness, firstname.lastname@example.org