Concord, NH – During this busy summer season of trips to the beach, vacations, and cookouts, the Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) Food Protection Section wants to remind everyone to follow some important food safety practices to avoid foodborne illnesses, such as Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli, and Campylobacter.
There are an estimated 48 million cases of foodborne disease, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths each year in the United States.
"Food is an important part of vacation and holiday gatherings but it needs to be handled safely, especially during the warmer weather," said Dr. JosÉ Montero, Director of Public Health at DHHS. "The basic rule is keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. It may be common sense, but it should never be overlooked. Just like hand washing, the more we practice it the more routine it becomes and the safer we all will be."
A DHHS video on summer grilling food safety is available on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWDyMOUTrfM. There are some simple precautions everyone should always take to reduce the possibility of becoming sick when preparing food, which include:
Separate: Use a separate cutting board for cooked foods and raw foods (especially meat) and always wash them after use. Avoid cross contamination. Wash any utensil after preparing one food item before going on to the next item.
Clean: Always wash hands before touching any food. Wash hands and surfaces often during food preparation and afterward.
Cook: Pork, lamb, veal, and whole cuts of beef should be cooked to 145°F as measured by a food thermometer placed in the thickest part of the meat, followed by a three-minute rest time before carving or consuming. Hamburgers and other ground beef should reach 160°F. All poultry should reach a minimum temperature of 165°F. Fish should be cooked to 145°F. Fully cooked meats like hot dogs should be grilled to 165 °F or until steaming hot.
Chill: Refrigerate or freeze leftovers within two hours. One hour if it is a hot day over 90ºF. The refrigerator should be maintained at 40°F or lower and the freezer should be at 0°F or lower. Keep hot foods hot, 140°F or hotter, and cold foods cold, 40°F or below. Never defrost food at room temperature. Thaw food in the refrigerator, in a cold-water bath, or in the microwave. When using a microwave, meat must be cooked immediately after. Marinate foods in the refrigerator.
Report: Report suspected foodborne illnesses to the NH Department of Health and Human Services by calling 603-271-4496. Often calls from concerned citizens are how outbreaks are first detected. If a public health official calls you to talk about an outbreak, your cooperation is important, even if you are not ill.
For more information visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture at www.usda.gov or http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/teach-others/fsis-educational-campaigns/grill-it-safe/grill-it-safe, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at www.cdc.gov, the DHHS website at www.dhhs.nh.gov, or www.befoodsafe.org.