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Food Safety Tips for Holiday Feasts

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With the holiday season fast approaching, CDPH Director and State Health Officer Dr. Ron Chapman today reminded consumers to take special, simple precautions to prevent illness that can be caused by food due to insufficient cooking, inadequate cooling and improper food handling practices.

“By following simple, easy-to-remember food safety tips, consumers can ensure that holiday feasts do not become a source of foodborne disease,” said Chapman.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths annually in the United States are related to foodborne diseases.

Foodborne diseases can be prevented by simple safety steps in the kitchen. Wash hands with soap and warm water before and after food preparation, and especially after handling raw foods. Clean all work surfaces, utensils and dishes with hot soapy water and rinse with hot water after each use. Be sure to cook foods thoroughly and to refrigerate adequately between meals. Visit this page for more food safety tips, including proper cooking temperatures.

“Food safety is something we should think about every day of the year,” added Chapman. “Properly prepared and handled foods can assure us all a safe meal.”

Bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 are responsible for many foodborne illnesses, caused by eating contaminated foods. Contamination usually occurs as a result of poor food handling practices at the farms, factories, restaurants or homes.

Symptoms of foodborne disease include fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea which may be bloody. Most infected people recover from foodborne illnesses within a week. Some, however, may develop complications that require hospitalization. Young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and persons with a weakened immune system are at highest risk for potentially life-threatening complications.

Additional resources for information on food safety include the Federal Food and Drug Administration Food Information line at 1-888-SAFEFOOD (1-888-723-3366) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854). Consumers can also access the national Partnership for Food Safety Education’s “Fight BAC” (bacteria) Web page.


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