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Prevent the spread of food-borne disease during holidays

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, December 14, 2011
CONTACT:  Lon Kightlinger, (605) 773-3737   


Prevent the spread of foodborne disease during holidays


PIERRE, S.D. – As you entertain family and friends at holiday gatherings, be sure to keep food safety in mind to prevent food-borne illness, says a state health official.


“Bacterial food-borne illness, more commonly called food poisoning, can turn holiday merriment to misery,” said Dr. Lon Kightlinger, State Epidemiologist for the Department of Health. “You can prevent food-borne illness by thorough hand washing, cooking and storing foods at the proper temperatures, and avoiding food preparation when you’re sick.”


The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 48 million people, or one out of six Americans, gets sick with a food borne illness each year, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die. In South Dakota, as of the end of November, more than 400 cases of the food-borne illnesses Salmonella (151), Campylobacter (286), and E. coli (37) had been reported for the year. There have also been cases of another food borne illness, Norovirus, which is not reportable.


“It’s not uncommon in South Dakota to have food-borne outbreaks caused by holiday pot-lucks at schools, churches, offices or other gatherings,” noted Dr. Kightlinger. He recommended the following precautions for holiday food preparations:


·         Clean. Wash hands, cutting boards, utensils, and countertops.

·         Separate. Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood separate from ready-to-eat foods.

·         Cook. Use a food thermometer to ensure that foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature – 145°F for whole meats (let meat rest for 3 minutes before carving or consuming), 160°F for ground meats, and 165°F for all poultry and stuffing.

·         Chill. Keep your refrigerator below 40°F, and refrigerate food that will spoil.

·         Be especially careful when preparing food for children, pregnant women, those in poor health, and older adults.

·         Don't prepare food for others if you have diarrhea or have been vomiting.


Learn more at http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/basics/index.html or www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm092815.htm.


Signs and symptoms of food-borne illness can include mild or severe diarrhea, fever, vomiting and abdominal pain. Most people will recover on their own without medication or may require fluids to prevent dehydration.

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