Happy Independence Day! Let’s eat! Well, before that happens, you need to understand the dangers of food poisoning — they’re real. Food poisoning, depending on its severity, can be fatal.
By taking a few moments to read these tips for combating food illness, you can skip succumbing to potential poisoning and spending the night at your local medical facility.
Al Almanza, Deputy Under Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), states that summer heat can be a serious issue when it comes to regulating your food, especially during lengthy, outdoor events such as those taking place on the fourth of July.
“Because food-borne bacteria thrive and multiply more quickly in warmer temperatures, food-borne illness can spike during summer,” mentions Almanza.
“This is likely because people are spending more time outside — away from the sink and equipment in the kitchen that help consumers keep food safe,” the food poison advisory continued.
According to statistics from the USDA, approximately 48 million people encounter food poisoning per year. As a result, this turns into nearly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.
This is Chris Smalling after "Food Poisoning". What did he eat, a car crash? pic.twitter.com/MTm1ZqTowA
— BenchWarmers (@BeWarmers) July 4, 2016
When it comes to food, there’s a particular “danger zone,” says the USDA.
For the most part, it’s important to always keep cold foods below 40 degrees and hot foods above 140 degrees, as noted in the food poisoning advisory.
Without refrigeration or a heat source, perishable foods should not be left out for more than two hours if the outdoor temperature is below 90 degrees. And if the temperature is at or above 90 degrees, it should only be one hour, mentions the USDA.
If those situations aren’t met, food poisoning encounters are highly probable.
— UK News Information (@AnglosearchNews) June 25, 2016
Trust and believe that the fourth of July will be a hot one for many parts of the United States. With this in mind, as a further explanation, food should be placed in a cooler within an hour. The food poisoning advisory mentions that, if you aren’t sure how long food has been left out, throw it away.
Likewise, to avoid such food illness, the advisory states as follows.
“Pack an appliance thermometer in your cooler to ensure food stays at or below 40 °F. Divide large amounts of food into shallow containers for fast chilling and easier use. Packing drinks in a separate cooler is strongly recommended, so the food cooler isn’t opened frequently. Keep the cooler in the shade, and try to cover it with a blanket or tarp to keep it cool. Replenish the ice if it melts.
“Use the food thermometer to check the internal temperature of meat, poultry and seafood. You absolutely cannot tell whether the meat is safely cooked by just looking. If you plan to marinate meat and/or poultry for several hours or overnight prior to the event, make sure to marinate them in the refrigerator – not on the counter. If you plan to reuse the marinade from raw meat or poultry, make sure to boil it first to destroy any harmful bacteria.”
It’s important to keep sanitary supplies on-hand during your Independence Day events. You need to utilize as many preventative maintenance methods as possible to combat the onset of food poisoning. The USDA advises that you keep clean clothes, moist towelettes, and liquid sanitizer handy as well.
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In addition, as another word of caution from the USDA against food poisoning, you should never place cooked food on a plate or platter that raw meat was on, previously.
It may seem like common sense, right? But, be assured that the agency mentions it for a reason.
Are you engaging in outdoor food activities today? Do you think the USDA’s advice will help keep you from succumbing to food poisoning? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Photo by David McNew/Getty Images]