Foodborne Illnesses and the Holidays: How to Avoid Getting Sick

Nothing puts a damper on a family holiday like a case of food poisoning. Unfortunately, foodborne illnesses are common during the holiday season.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 48 million people in the U.S. come down with food poisoning each year, leading to 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. The CDC has identified more than 250 foodborne illnesses – most are infectious and are caused by viruses, bacteria, and parasites.

 Top Five Foodborne Illnesses

 Here are the five most common foodborne illnesses, along with their causes: 

  • Norovirus. Affected individuals with unwashed hands who handle or prepare raw foods.
  • Clostridium perfringens. Bacteria present in raw or undercooked meat and poultry, particularly in gravies or dried and precooked foods that are being kept warm in large quantities.
  • Campylobacter. Caused by raw or undercooked poultry or from cross-contamination during preparation through shared knives or cutting boards.
  • Salmonella. Present in raw or undercooked meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs.
  • Staphylococcus aureus (staph). Found in unpasteurized dairy products and also caused by affected individuals handling food without first washing their hands.

 Ways to Avoid Getting Sick

 Although foodborne illnesses run rampant during the holiday season, there are several things you can do to avoid getting sick, such as: 

  • When preparing meals, wash your hands first for 20 seconds with hot, soapy water.
  • Before and after cooking, thoroughly disinfect surfaces and utensils used.
  • Keep hot foods hot, cold foods cold, and never leave perishables out for more than two hours.
  • Cook meat and poultry thoroughly, until the juices run clear – poultry to 165°F, eggs, beef, lamb, and pork to 160°F, and fish and shellfish to 145°F.
  • Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator, immersed in cold water, or in the microwave, not on the countertop.
  • Reheat food to a minimum of 165°F.
  • Rinse fruits and vegetables, even if you plan to peel them afterward.
  • Don’t rinse raw meat or poultry.
  • Clean and replace sponges often, and always keep them away from raw meat.

If you sustained injuries from a foodborne illness due to someone else’s negligence, contact the personal injury attorneys at Murray & Murray today.