There's nothing like adding insult to injury! Or in this case, coming out of weeks of self-isolation or social-distancing to avoid COVID-19, only to get a lovely case of foodborne illness.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) estimates that 48 million people get sick from a food-borne illness every year in the U.S. and 3,000 die!

With Memorial Day weekend upon us, maybe it's time for a refresher course on preventing this unbelievably unpleasant malady.

The USDA's (U.S. Department of Agriculture) Food Safety and Inspection Service  (FSIS), breaks down their advice into "4 Steps for Food Safety" year-round, and, for special days like Memorial Day. I think you'll be very familiar with Number 1.

  • Clean- -Wash your hands, utensils, and cutting boards, before and after contact with raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.
  • Separate - - Use one cutting board for raw meat, poultry, and seafood and another for salads and ready-to-eat foods. Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood and their juices apart from other food in your grocery cart and when you're storing them in the fridge to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Cook - -Always use a thermometer, you cannot tell if food is done just by looking at it. Bring leftovers up to a safe temperature, uniformly, to avoid cold spots where bacteria can thrive.
  • Chill - - Chilling food properly is one of the best ways to avoid food poisoning. Your fridge should be set to 40 degrees or below. You should get leftovers of any kind into the fridge within 2 hours. Always thaw frozen meat, poultry, and seafood in the fridge, not on your counter.

Additionally, the FSIS suggests that you:

  • Bring hand sanitizer, soap, and paper towels if you don't have running water where you are spending time this holiday weekend.
  • Bring two coolers filled with ice. One for beverages and one for perishable foods.
  • Bring a food thermometer.
  • Get leftovers into your cooler within 2 hours.

Taking these measures should lower your chances of foodborne illness, but believe me when I say, they cannot prevent it completely.

For more great information year-round, (including food product recalls) see the USDA/Food Safety and Inspection Service and Be Food Safe online.

Sources: CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) USDA/Food Safety and Inspection Service and Be Food Safe

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