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Practice Food Safety at Fourth of July Gatherings

June 27, 2011
CONTACT: Clark Hepper, (605) 773-4945                    
Practice Food Safety at Fourth of July Gatherings
PIERRE, S.D. – As the Fourth of July approaches, a health official reminds South Dakotans to make safe food handling part of those holiday cookouts and picnics.
“Without safe food handling practices, outdoor meals run the risk of bacterial food-borne illness, commonly called food poisoning,” said Clark Hepper, health protection administrator for the Department of Health. “You can prevent food-borne illness at outdoor gatherings with the same safe food handling practices you use indoors.”
The major bacterial food borne illnesses reported in South Dakota are E. coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter. Another common, but underreported illness is “staph food poisoning,” caused by the toxins of the common Staphylococcus aureus.
South Dakota reported nearly 500 cases of such food-borne illnesses in 2010 and a great many more cases were likely unreported. Although these diseases can be transmitted by food, they are also spread directly by farm animals and their manure.
Symptoms of food-borne illness can include mild or severe diarrhea, fever, vomiting and abdominal pain. Most people will recover at home without medication but some may require fluids to prevent dehydration.
The department recommends these steps when cooking food for outdoor meals:
§ Begin with hand-washing. Consider using moist disposable towelettes for outdoors.
  • Keep raw foods separate from cooked foods. Don’t use a plate that previously held raw meat unless you first wash it in hot, soapy water
  • Marinate foods in the refrigerator, not on the counter or outdoors. Don't reuse marinade – to use as a sauce, reserve some separately before adding food.
  • Cook food thoroughly, using a food thermometer to be sure. Cook hamburgers to 160ºF and chicken to at least 165ºF.
  • Keep hot food hot (at or above 140ºF) and cold food cold (at or below 40ºF).
  • Refrigerate or freeze leftover food promptly. Don’t let perishable food sit out longer than two hours and no more than one hour if temperature is above 90ºF.
To learn more about food safety, see the department website at http://doh.sd.gov/HealthProtection/ or the Food and Drug Administration site at http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm094562.htm.