The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Enid Features

November 23, 2012

Avoid getting sick after holiday meals

ENID, Okla. — Healthy Aging

By Judy Rupp

When you make preparations for Thanksgiving and other holiday meals, you probably call on the traditional wisdom passed along to you by your mother. Among all of the family food secrets and recipes, you’re unlikely to find helpful advice regarding food safety.

No one ever got sick in our family, you say. But people can and do get foodborne illness from holiday meals. Diarrhea, vomiting and flu-like symptoms — which can appear as early as a few hours to as long as several days after a meal — may be mistakenly labeled “intestinal flu” or be mild enough to go unnoticed.

On the other hand, foodborne illness can be severe and even life-threatening. Those most at risk include older adults, infants and small children, pregnant women and persons who have weakened immunity.

There is no reason to take chances, particularly when safe food handling practices are so easy to follow. According to the Food and Drug Association, the basics can be summed up as: 1. Clean, 2. Separate, 3. Cook and 4. Chill.

Clean

This refers to your hands and every surface in your kitchen that comes in contact with food.  Wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds both before and after handling any food. Dishes, knives and other utensils, cutting boards and countertops should be clean before each use.

Fruits and vegetables should be rinsed well under cool, running water, but don’t rinse meat or poultry before cooking since this may spread bacteria around the sink and counter tops.

Separate

Think of raw meat, poultry, seafood, eggs and their juices as being contaminated with harmful bacteria. With cooking, these will be removed, but until then, it’s crucial to keep them separate from foods that won’t be cooked. This principle should be followed from the time you place the items in your grocery cart until you put them in your oven or frying pan.

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