Facts for fighting food poisoning
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JANESVILLE The worst is behind us.
In Rock County, August is the most common month for food poisoning.
The number of food poisoning incidents increase during the summer, peaking in August, when more people are grilling and picnicking, said Laura Fadrowski, county health educator.
“We definitely see an uptick in the number of infections in the summer,’’ she said.
As autumn arrives, more people will be canning and freezing, which also present potential food poisoning problems.
Each year, about one in six people—or 48 million people—in the United States get sick from eating contaminated food, according to the Center for Disease Control.
Of those, 18,000 will end up hospitalized, and 3,000 will die, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In Rock County, the number of reported food-borne illnesses averaged 133 a year during 2008-10. So far this year, 65 such cases have been recorded.
Many cases go unreported, said Janet Zoellner, public health nursing director at the Rock County Health Department.
“Lots of people have stomach upset and don’t go to the physician, or they go and the doctor doesn’t get a stool sample. It’s those cases we don’t know about,’’ she said.
It usually takes at least 24 hours and sometimes up to four days after eating contaminated food for food-borne illness to cause fever, diarrhea and vomiting, Zoellner said.
“It depends on the organism and how long it takes to grow,’’ she said.
“Some people may recover 90 percent after a few days. Some still don’t feel right a week afterward,’’ said Tim Banwell, environmental health director.
Public health is about preventing the next person from getting ill, Banwell said.
That’s why Fadrowski is featuring food safety as September’s health topic of the month on the department’s website.
To avoid trouble while canning or freezing foods, Banwell recommends following a good recipe.
“The UW Extension is a great resource,” Fadrowski said.
PREVENTING FOOD POISONING
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends people protect themselves from food poisoning by:
-- Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food.
-- Wash utensils, cutting boards, dishes and countertops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next food.
-- Rinse fruits and vegetables under running tap water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten.
-- Scrub firm-skinned produce with a clean brush under running tap water.
-- Blot produce dry with a clean cloth or paper towel.
-- Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood and their juices apart from other food items in your grocery cart.
-- Use two cutting boards—one for raw meat, poultry and seafood and another for salads and ready-to-eat food.
-- Store raw meat, poultry and seafood in a container or on a plate so juices can’t drip on other foods.
-- Use a food thermometer—you can’t tell if food is cooked safely by how it looks.
-- Food is safely cooked when it reaches an internal temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria.
-- Follow this temperature chart: Fresh or ground beef, veal, lamb, 160 degrees; fresh or ground poultry, 165 degrees; fresh pork, 160 degrees; egg, cook until yolk and white are firm; fish, 145 degrees; leftovers and casseroles, 165 degrees.
-- Chill leftovers and takeout foods within two hours.
-- Keep the fridge at 40 degrees or below and use an appliance thermometer.
-- Store meat, poultry and seafood in the refrigerator, not on the counter, and don’t overstuff the fridge.