Archive for September 13th, 2011

I retrieved from the back recesses of my refrigerator a flavored yogurt mingled among other recently purchased cartons. My chosen yogurt had expired many months earlier. Even as we attempt to keep and eat safe food, occasionally some item gets missed.

September is National Food Safety Education Month. This marks the seventeenth year for the month-long campaign to increase food-safety awareness. Although focused on restaurants and the foodservice industry, the same safe practices apply at home.

Food Insight1, reported that those aged twenty to twenty-nine had the safest food preparation practices. Those safe practices peaked at mid-life and diminished with age. The dissimilarities of older adults required targeting education to specific populations, namely those with underlying chronic illnesses and those living alone who prepared their own food.

After a major E.coli outbreak in 1993, food-handling habits for young people seemed to improve when exposed to food-safety messages at school. Teaching young and school-aged children to wash their hands decreased chances of ingesting harmful bacteria. As this group grew to young adults and started families, they recognized the health impact of contaminated food. Positive behavioral changes protected their children. Even so, the Center for Disease Control reported a high rate of hospitalizations of very young children (under age three) due to foodborne infections.

Food Insight2 also suggested four areas for home inspections and practices:

  • Proper Food Handling: Frequent hand washing lowers the spread of bacteria.
  • Clean and Sanitized Surfaces: To reduce the risk of cross-contamination, use separate cutting boards for raw meats and ready-to-eat foods such as fruits, vegetables, and breads. Wash and sanitize surfaces before and after preparation, especially meats.
  • Storage of Food: Perishable leftover foods need refrigerating within two hours. Label containers with the contents and date. Discard after three to four days.
  • Utensils and Equipment: Meats cooked to appropriate internal temperatures as determined by a meat thermometer lessen risks for foodborne illnesses.

Keep you and your family safe from tainted foods. Follow these simple rules to protect your household against foods that may cause illness.

1 http://www.foodinsight.org/Newsletter/Detail.aspx?topic=Partnership

 2 http://www.foodinsight.org/Newsletter/Detail.aspx?topic=National_Food_Safety_Education_Month

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