NH DHHS - Food Safety Tips for the Summer Season

Concord, NH – During this busy summer season of trips to the beach, vacations, and cookouts, the Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) Bureau of Food Protection wants to remind everyone to follow some important food safety practices to avoid foodborne illnesses, such as Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli, and Campylobacter.

There are an estimated 76 million cases of foodborne disease, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths each year in the United States.

“Food is an important part of vacation and holiday gatherings but it needs to be handled safely, especially during the warmer weather,” said Dr. Jose Montero, Director of Public Health at DHHS. “The basic rule is keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.”

A DHHS video on summer grilling food safety is now available on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWDyMOUTrfM.

There are some simple precautions everyone should always take to reduce the possiblility of becoming sick when preparing food, which include:

Separate: Use a separate cutting board for cooked foods and raw foods (especially meat) and always wash them after use.

Avoid cross contamination. Wash any utensil after preparing one food item before going on to the next item.

Clean: Always wash hands before touching any food. Wash hands and surfaces often during food preparation and afterward.

Cook: Make sure all meats are thoroughly cooked by using a meat thermometer: turkey, stuffing, and casseroles to 165ºF; veal, beef, and lamb roasts to 145ºF; and ham, pork, ground beef, and egg dishes to 160ºF. When reheating, leftovers should be thoroughly heated to 165ºF.

Chill: Refrigerate or freeze leftovers within two hours. One hour if it is a hot day over 90ºF. The refrigerator should be maintained at 40ºF or lower and the freezer should be at 0ºF or lower. Keep hot foods hot, 140ºF or hotter, and cold foods cold, 40ºF or below. Never defrost food at room temperature.

Thaw food in the refrigerator, in a cold-water bath, or in the microwave. When using a microwave, meat must be cooked immediately after. Marinate foods in the refrigerator.

Report: Report suspected food borne illnesses to the NH Department of Health and Human Services by calling 603-271-4496. Often calls from concerned citizens are how outbreaks are first detected. If a public health official calls you to talk about an outbreak, your cooperation is important, even if you are not ill.

For more information visit www.usda.gov, www.cdc.gov, www.befoodsafe.org, or www.dhhs.nh.gov.