National Food Safety Education Month – September 2023 – District 10 Health Department

National Food Safety Education Month – September 2023

Key facts

According to the US Food and Drug Administration:

  • Not only are pregnant women and the elderly at increased risk of foodborne illness, but they are also more likely to develop long-term illness, undergo hospitalization, or even die.
    • It’s also fairly common, with about 1 in 6 Americans getting food poisoning each year.
  • Changes during pregnancy alter the mother’s immune system, making pregnant women more susceptible to foodborne illness.
    • Harmful bacteria can also cross the placenta and infect the fetus whose immune system is underdeveloped and unable to fight the infection.
  • As we age, the immune system and other organs become slower to recognize and rid the body of harmful bacteria and other pathogens that cause infections, such as foodborne illnesses.

This month, take an active role in preventing foodborne illness, also known as “food poisoning.” The federal government estimates that there are about 48 million cases of foodborne illness annually — that’s about 1 in 6 Americans each year. Each year, these diseases result in an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. Following simple food safety tips can help reduce your chances of getting sick.

Know the symptoms

Consuming dangerous foodborne bacteria usually causes illness within one to three days of eating contaminated food. However, illness can also occur within 20 minutes or up to 6 weeks later. Symptoms of foodborne illness can include vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain — and flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, and body aches.

Handle foods safely

Although most healthy people will recover from foodborne illness within a short period of time, some can develop chronic, severe, or even life-threatening health problems. In addition, some people are more susceptible to foodborne illness, including pregnant women, young children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems (such as organ transplant patients and individuals with HIV/AIDS, cancer, or diabetes). . To keep your family safe from food poisoning, Follow these four simple steps: clean, separate, cook, and cool.


Wash your hands and surfaces frequently

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after eating and after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and handling pets.
  • Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item.
  • Consider using paper towels to clean kitchen surfaces. If you use cloth towels, wash them often on the hot cycle.
  • Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water, including those with peels and rinds that have not been eaten. Scrub solid products with a clean product brush.
  • For canned goods, remember to clean the lids before opening them.


Separate raw meat from other foods

  • Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from other foods in your grocery shopping cart, grocery bags, and refrigerator.
  • Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate board for raw meat, poultry and seafood.
  • Never place cooked food on a plate that previously contained raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs unless the plate has been washed with hot, soapy water.
  • Do not reuse used pickles on raw foods unless you boil them first.

He cooks

Cook food to the appropriate temperature

  • Color and texture are unreliable indicators of safety. Using a food thermometer is the only way to ensure that meat, poultry, seafood, and egg products are safe for all cooking methods. These foods should be cooked to the minimum safe internal temperature to destroy any harmful bacteria.
  • Cook the eggs until the yolks and whites are firm. Use only recipes in which the eggs are cooked or heated through.
  • When cooking in a microwave oven, cover the food and stir and rotate it until it cooks evenly. If there is no turntable, rotate the dish by hand once or twice during cooking. Always allow waiting time, until cooking is complete, before checking the internal temperature with a food thermometer.
  • Bring sauces, soups, and broths to a boil when reheating.


Cool foods immediately

  • Use an appliance thermometer to ensure that the temperature is maintained at 40°F or below and that the freezer temperature is 0°F or below.
  • Refrigerate or freeze meat, poultry, eggs, seafood and other perishable items within two hours of cooking or purchasing. Refrigerate within 1 hour if the outside temperature is above 90°F.
  • Never defrost food at room temperature, such as on the countertop. There are three safe ways to thaw food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave. Food thawed in cold water or in the microwave should be cooked immediately.
  • Always marinate food in the refrigerator.
  • Divide large amounts of leftovers into shallow containers for faster cooling in the refrigerator.

Quick links

Food and Drug Administration | Food Safety Education Month

Center for Disease Control | Four steps to food safety

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