Holiday Season Brings Spike in Food Illnesses; Prevention Tips

Posted on December 21, 2018

Increase in Foodborne Illnesses in our Community

Montgomery Twp. – The Health Department has seen an increase in the number of foodborne illnesses in our area, especially over the past month. Foodborne illnesses like E. coli, Salmonella, Giardiasis, and Campylobacter can pose serious health risks and may take several weeks to treat. Spoiled food can make a person sick any day of the year, but the holiday season and family gatherings make the problem more common. According to Stephanie Carey, Montgomery Township Health Officer, “During the holidays, we see an increase in food related illnesses.  It can be hard to cook a turkey thoroughly.  Also, trays of food may sit out at parties for a long time. Make sure to keep hot food hot and cold food cold. Share the joy, not the germs!”

“When we see increased incidences of foodborne illnesses, we investigate each case separately, looking for trends that may link two or more cases together.  However, we often find that the holiday season is popular for foodborne-related illnesses due to things like handling uncooked meat, or eating raw cookie dough” says Brianna Retsis, the Township’s Public Health Nurse.  “Health Education is key to preventing the spread of these illnesses that are mostly spread by the oral-fecal route. Simple measures, such as proper handwashing, and food-handling techniques can prevent foodborne illness, or food poisoning.

Signs and Symptoms of Foodborne Illness include:

 

§  Abdominal Cramps §  Weight Loss
§  Nausea/Vomiting §  Weakness/Fatigue
§  Severe (often bloody) Diarrhea §  Loss of Appetite
§  Fever §  Headache

 

The Health Department encourages four simple food safety tips:

  1. Wash hands and surfaces often. Unwashed hands are a prime cause of foodborne illness.  Hands should be washed with warm, soapy water before and after handling food.
  2. Don’t cross-contaminate. Separate raw meats and uncooked food from ready-to-eat food.
  3. Cook to proper temperatures. Cooking at high enough temperatures will kill harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness.
  4. Refrigerate promptly. Food left out of refrigeration for more than 2 hours may not be safe to eat.

For more information:

USDA: www.FoodSafety.gov

Fight BAC: www.fightbac.org/summer-1/

For questions or more information, please contact the Montgomery Township Health Department at (908) 359-8211