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Health and Family Services Cabinet
Don’t Let Foodborne Illness Spoil Your Independence Day

Press Release Date:  Monday, June 29, 2009  
Contact Information:  Gwenda Bond or Beth Crace Fisher, (502) 564-6786, ext. 3325 or 4012  

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) wants all Kentuckians to observe a happy and safe Independence Day by following a few simple food preparation and handling guidelines during outdoor cookouts, picnics and barbecues.

“The key to food protection is simple: Keep hot food hot, and keep cold food cold,” said Guy Delius, director of the Division of Public Health Protection and Safety in the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH). “Pregnant women, infants and the elderly need to be especially mindful of food safety because they are more vulnerable to foodborne illness. However, anyone can get sick from contaminated food. We’re offering these simple guidelines for proper food preparation and storage to help our residents avoid that.”

According to DPH, food left out in the sun or in hot cars too long can become a breeding ground for bacteria and may cause foodborne illness when consumed. This is particularly important to remember for holiday parties, when there is increased likelihood for exposing multiple people to foodborne illness.

The spread of illness related to spoiled or contaminated food is relatively common and can cause painful and sometimes life-threatening complications. Attention to food safety precautions, such as maintaining a clean preparation environment, attention to thorough and frequent hand washing and proper food preparation and storage are extremely important.

“We want Kentuckians to observe our recommended food safety guidelines every day, but it is particularly important around the holidays or when a party or gathering is planned,” said Christine Atkinson, manager of the DPH food safety branch. “This July 4, we hope all Kentuckians will join us in our effort to prevent the widespread outbreak of illness.”

To avoid exposure to bacteria and prevent foodborne illness, DPH recommends following these guidelines:

− Wash hands before eating or preparing food, after using the restroom, between handling raw and ready-to-eat items and after handling pets. Wash with hot soapy water, and dry with paper towels.

− To sanitize surfaces, use a solution of regular household bleach and warm water. Add about 1 tablespoon of bleach to 2 gallons of water for the right concentration. Sanitize by first washing and rinsing the surface and then immerse, spray or swab with the bleach solution.

− Separate raw foods from ready-to-eat foods. Use different cutting boards or wash, rinse and sanitize after contact with raw meat, poultry and seafood. Never use the same plate to transport the cooked hamburgers that was used for the raw hamburger patties.

− Handle all cut melons carefully, including cantaloupe and watermelon. Thoroughly clean the outer surface before slicing, and keep work surface and utensils used to prepare the melon clean and sanitized. Refrigerate sliced melon promptly at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.

− Be sure to wash all produce thoroughly before use.

− Cook food to the proper internal temperature:

               Ground beef                              160 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds
               Poultry and stuffed meats         165 degrees F for 15 seconds
               Pork products                            150 degrees F for 15 seconds
               Reheating leftovers                  165 degrees F for 15 seconds

− Always check the internal temperature of cooked foods with a metal-stemmed thermometer, and cook another 15 seconds after the thermometer indicates it has reached the proper temperature.

− Within two hours, cool and maintain leftovers at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, or freeze at zero degrees or lower.



Last Updated 6/29/2009