Thursday, November 01, 2007

Health & Wellness: Food Safety

From the Grace Church Health and Wellness Ministry Committee, November 2007

With Thanksgiving around the corner, the theme for the second half of November is Food Safety. Your local health department is the best source of information about food safety and how it may be affecting your health.

The goal of safe food handling and preparation is the prevention of foodborne illnesses. Such illnesses (Salmonellosis, Campylobacteriosis or E. coli infection.) result when you eat foods contaminated during production, preparation or storage, by harmful organisms, such as bacteria, parasites or viruses. The most common signs and symptoms of such illnesses are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Fortunately, most cases of foodborne illness are mild and can be treated at home by replacing lost fluids and electrolytes. More serious cases may be treated in a hospital where patients are given fluids through a vein.

  • Food Types: Some foods (e.g., fruits, custards, gravies, vegetables, precooked foods, raw fish, ground beef, pork, shellfish, veal, poultry and poultry products) are more potentially hazardous than other foods (e.g., breads, pastries, pastas and other ready-to-eat foods).
  • Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points (HACCP) is a system, promoted by the Food and Drug Administration, to prevent foodborne illnesses. The system, in brief, is designed to (a) identify the greatest hazards to food safety, (b) establish maximum or minimum limits (e.g., temperature) needed to reduce risk, and (c) adopt corrective actions as needed,
  • Safe Food Handling Practices: We can adopt many of the Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points principles in our homes and churches.
    • Avoid buying packages with tears or leaks.
    • Keep raw beef, pork and poultry separate from other foods.
    • Cool large volumes of food in several small containers within the refrigerator.
    • Wash your hands, countertops, sinks, cutting boards, tables and utensils before and after handling different foods.
    • Cook foods to appropriate temperature. Casseroles, beef, veal, pork and lamb should be cooked to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Poultry should be cooked to minimum internal temperatures of 165 degrees. Raw fish, shellfish, and veal should be cooked to at least 145 degrees. Fruits, vegetables and precooked foods should be cooked to at least 135 degrees.
    • To make sure you can enjoy Thanksgiving leftovers:
      • Food should never be left out more than two hours, such as after Thanksgiving dinner.
      • Leftover foods must be reheated to 165 degrees for 15 seconds.
    • Cool food from 135 degrees to 70 degrees in no more than 2 hours and continue to cool from 70 degrees to 41 degrees in no more than 4 hours - within the refrigerator.
    • When ready for serving, keep cold foods cold (40 degrees or colder) and hot foods hot (135 degrees or hotter), but NEVER at room temperature.
    • Potentially hazardous foods should be date marked with the expiration date no later than 6 days from the date the item was prepared or the container opened.

Should you have concerns or want additional information about the material presented above, please contact your local public health department, environmental health department of a local university, or someone on the Grace Church Health and Wellness Ministry Committee. This Committee is chaired by Mrs. Florence Poyer, R.N.

Prepared by: Walter S. Handy, Ph.D., Member, Grace Church Health and Wellness Ministry Committee . (with the assistance of Environmental Health staff at the Cincinnati Health Department)

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