Foods to avoid this Independence Day and tips to avoid food poisoning during the holidays

It’s the 4th of July weekend and with that comes the expectation of lots of food, time with friends and family, and fireworks. Get ready for the heat, review fireworks safety, and read the following food safety tips to keep everyone safe this Independence Day.

Holiday events are often cross-generational affairs, which means those most vulnerable – elderly parents, pregnant women and young children – to food poisoning will benefit from the holiday spread. For this reason, it’s best to go the extra mile to make sure the food is safe for everyone.

Foods to avoid if you want to be safer this holiday weekend:

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Starting with the obvious, unpasteurized or so-called raw milk should be avoided. Cows can be infected with all types of bacteria, and although some claim that milk loses nutrients during pasteurization, this is untrue.

Likewise, raw juices and other beverages can be dangerous. Skipping pasteurization means increasing the risk of contamination from bacteria, viruses and parasites. For your safety and that of your friends, stick to pasteurized beverages and dairy products like cheese.

Subs or hoagies are a popular picnic meal, but as tempting as it may be, raw sprouts should be avoided. They are dangerous due to their growth process. Seeds are germinated in standing water which can grow bacteria. There have been too many outbreaks to ignore the risk of germ contamination.

With all the work involved in throwing a party or feeding a large group of people, it can be tempting to buy pre-washed or pre-cut fruit, but the more people handling and processing the food, the greater the risk. contamination. So, to be on the safe side, wash and cut the fruit yourself, or make a whole fruit salad bar.

For the same reason, pre-cut vegetables pose an additional risk. This is especially true for lettuce, like romaine, which has been linked to outbreaks in the past. Wash your vegetables and cut them yourself to be on the safe side.

Raw or undercooked eggs can carry Salmonella, which is a great reason to make sure all eggs at your party or picnic are fully cooked. Raw eggs should not be used to make homemade ice cream. Use other pasteurized egg products from the dairy section of the grocery store.

Undercooked meat is also a concern and should be given special attention. All meats should be well cooked. This means sushi or other undercooked meats aren’t the best choice for this holiday season. If you grill, keep burgers and steaks well done. Meat should be cooked to 160 degrees to kill bacteria that could cause E. coli or Salmonella.

Whether we saw it on a sitcom or heard it from a friend, everyone has seen or heard of raw oysters and other stories of food poisoning from raw shellfish. And shellfish-related foodborne illnesses have increased dramatically due to global warming. Warmer water increases microbial growth, which ends up in filter feeders such as oysters. Prevention is better than cure, leave the shells in the water.

Speaking of water, unfiltered water can contain animal feces, Giardia, and a number of bacteria. Make sure kids running around the lake and stream don’t get thirsty and get a drink.

Finally, uncooked flour can spread bacteria such as E. coli. In 2015 and 2016, 56 people developed E. coli infections from eating uncooked flour. Raw treats made from cookie dough are growing in popularity, but it’s important to remember that these treats require the flour to be cooked before the dough is made.

More important food safety tips for the weekend:

Wash your hands

It is important to follow proper hand washing steps before, during and after food preparation to prevent bacteria from transferring from your hands to your meal.

According to a recent USDA consumer study, 56% of participants did not attempt to wash their hands while preparing meals. This is a significant drop in handwashing attempts compared to previous years of research.

In addition to poor handwashing attempts, approximately 95% of participants failed to wash their hands properly. The most common reason in the study for handwashing failure was not scrubbing your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, followed by not getting your hands wet with water at first. time.

There are five steps to proper hand washing: wet hands, lather with soap, scrub for 20 seconds, rinse and dry.

Use a food thermometer

Always use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of your food to determine if it is safe to eat. The thermometer should be inserted into the thickest part of the meat, or through the side or burgers, for the most accurate temperature reading.

Use a food thermometer to make sure the following foods have reached their safe internal temperature:

Steaks, chops and roasts of beef, pork, lamb and veal: 145 degrees F with a 3 minute rest

  • Fish: 145 degrees F
  • Egg dishes: 160 degrees F
  • Ground meats (beef, pork, lamb, veal, venison, etc.): 160 degrees F
  • All poultry (whole or ground): 165 degrees F

Separate raw meats, poultry and seafood from RTE foods

If you plan to cook for the holiday weekend, indoors or outdoors, separate raw meats, poultry, and seafood from other ready-to-eat (RTE) foods. Use one cooler for raw meats and poultry and another for RTE foods like fruits, vegetables, cheese and desserts. Take two sets of plates and utensils for handling raw meats and for serving cooked foods to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

watch the heat

Click to enlarge. Courtesy of USDA

Summer weather can be hot and humid, which means food won’t stay safe as long as it would indoors. When the outside temperature is above 90 degrees F, perishable foods such as meat and poultry, cold dips and salads, or cut fruits and vegetables are only safe on the table for one hour.

Keeping cold foods cool is an important step in ensuring food safety and health, so keep them on ice, in coolers, or in your fridge and freezer.

Just like cold foods, hot perishable foods should be kept warm, above 140 degrees F, until consumed. You can easily do this by moving these items to the side of your grill away from the main heat source, rather than removing them completely from the grill.

Pathogen vectors

Bags of chips, trays of fruit, condiments and other foods can carry pathogens through cross-contamination by people if they don’t wash their hands.

Norovirus can be spread through food and also in swimming pools, and ponds, lakes and streams can be breeding grounds for E. coli. Touching playground equipment in parks and backyards can result in microscopic amounts of bird droppings on hot dogs, hamburgers, buns and other foods.

Parents should ensure children wash their hands properly and use hand sanitizer before eating.

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