Holiday party tips for avoiding food poisoning

By WEEK Producer

Holiday party tips for avoiding food poisoning

December 12, 2012 Updated Dec 12, 2012 at 2:38 PM CDT

CENTRAL ILLINOIS -- They're the uninvited guests to that holiday party you're planning on attending: foodborne illnesses.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly one in six Americans get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases. In Illinois, as many as 250,000 cases of foodborne illness may occur each year.

“As a guest at holiday parties, there are a couple things you can watch out for to avoid foodborne illness," said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck.  "Hot foods should be hot and cold foods cold. Bacteria will start to grow on food that should be served either cold or hot, that is sitting out for more than a couple hours at room temperature. You should also be cautious when eating certain foods, such as raw oysters, egg drinks, soft-boiled eggs, steak tartare and rare or medium hamburger. These foods can harbor bacteria that cause foodborne illness."
The IDPH suggests: 
*        Clean: Wash your hands with soap and warm water for twenty seconds before and after preparing food. Wash all utensils, dishes and counter tops with hot soap and water. Rinse fresh produce with water.
*       Separate: Avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw meat and poultry, and their juices, separate from fruits, vegetables, and cooked foods. Never use a utensil on cooked foods that was previously used on uncooked foods, unless it's washed first with soap and water.
*        Cook: Always use a food thermometer when cooking meat and poultry to make sure it’s cooked to a safe internal temperature. 
*        Chill: Refrigerate leftovers within two hours. Set your refrigerator at or below 40°F and the freezer at 0°F.
If you or a family member develops nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever or abdominal cramps, you could have foodborne illness. Symptoms can appear anywhere from 30 minutes to two weeks after eating contaminated food. Most often, people get sick within four to 48 hours after eating contaminated food.
Some foodborne illnesses will resolve themselves without treatment. However, if the symptoms are severe or if the person is very young, old, pregnant or already ill, call a doctor or go to a nearby hospital immediately. If groups of people from different households become sick with vomiting and diarrhea, contact the local health department.

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