Annually, about 76 million people in the United States become ill from the food they eat, and about 5,000 of them die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Most recently, an E. coli outbreak linked to contaminated celery in Costco Rotisserie Chicken Salad has now triggered the recall of 71 other products sold at an assortment of retailers including Starbucks, Vons, Tony’s, King Soopers, Pantry, Savemart and 7 Eleven.
The recalled products include vegetable trays sold at Walmart and 7-Eleven; wraps and salads sold at Target; prepared salads sold at Costco; salad sold at King Soopers; salads and wraps sold at Pantry and Savemart; salad kits, veggie trays and salads at Safeway, Vons and Albertons; salad kits at Tony’s and the Holiday Turkey Sandwich sold at Starbucks
Dealing with dangerous food items
If any of the above food items are lurking in your refrigerator, you can either bring it back to the store for a refund, or simply throw it away.
When discarding potential infected, or spoiled, food it is best to place it in a well-sealed container to protect animals who might eat it. You may wish to place a note on the container advising people who may come across the discarded food that it is not good to eat.
Wash your hands well after handling the chicken salad, or any compromised food product, and – particularly if the area where the food was stored is used by young children, seniors or anyone with a compromised immune system – consider cleaning thoroughly with ho kill any remaining bacteria.
Symptoms of Food Poisoning
Each year, about 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The most common foodborne illnesses are norovirus, Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, and Campylobacter. Symptoms of food poisoning can be as commonplace as diarrhea and stomach cramps or as severe as organ failure. Food borne illnesses can cause long-term health problems or death. When young children, pregnant women, older adults, and people with weak immune systems are particularly at risk.
The CDC recommends you see your doctor or healthcare provider if you have “diarrhea along with a high fever (temperature over 101.5°F, measured orally), blood in the stools, prolonged vomiting that prevents you from keeping liquids down, signs of dehydration, including a decrease in urination, a dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up, or if you have had diarrhea for more than 3 days.”
Preventing Food Poisoning
While there are no statistics pointing to a steep rise in food poisoning cases over the holiday season, holiday party buffets, leaving food out for snacking at family celebrations, and the hectic nature of the season can bring people into contact with unhealthy food.
The CDC recommends that people not eat or drink foods containing raw eggs or raw (unpasteurized) milk. Also avoid foods that have been sitting out on buffets or the kitchen counter for more than two hours. Germs can grow in many foods within 2 hours unless you refrigerate them. (if you’re taking a winter break in a warm weather climate, or live in the deep south where winter is something you watch on TV, cut that “safe” time down to 1 hour).
If you’re in charge of cooking the turkey, the United States Department of Agriculture recommends:
- Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before touching any food to prevent the spread of many types of infection and illness.
- Do not wash the turkey. This only spreads pathogens onto kitchen surfaces. The only way to kill bacteria that causes foodborne illness is to fully cook the turkey.
- Keep raw turkey separated from all other foods at all times.
- Use separate cutting boards, plates, and utensils when handling raw turkey to avoid cross-contamination. Wash items that have touched raw meat with warm soap and water, or place them in a dishwasher.
- Cook the turkey until it reaches 165 °F, as measured by a food thermometer. Check the turkey’s temperature by inserting the thermometer in three places: the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the thigh, and the innermost part of the wing.
Chances are good that you’ve consumed all the Thanksgiving leftovers by now, but if not check this chart to ensure you aren’t keeping food in the fridge past the point where it is healthy to eat.
Best wishes for a happy, healthy holiday season from all of us at :DentalPlans!