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Food Safety Food-borne Illness A food-borne illness is a disease transmitted by food, the source of which is bacteria, or toxins produced by bacteria. Symptoms are flu-like including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and other reactions, lasting a few hours to several days. Bacteria are found everywhere, and under the right conditions, they can multiply fast! When growth occurs with “bad” bacteria (a.k.a. pathogens), people can get sick. Bacteria can multiply quickly — in fact, one cell can double within 20 to 30 minutes. It takes less than 10 E. coli bacteria to make you sick. Required Conditions for Bacterial Growth Time/Temperature o Under the right conditions, some bacteria can double their numbers within minutes and form toxins that cause illness within hours. To minimize bacterial growth in foods, it’s important to keep food temperatures below 40° F (4° C) or above 140° F (60° C). The level in between this temperature range is known as the Danger Zone. Nutrients o Bacteria need many of the same nutrients as humans in order to thrive (glucose, amino acids, and some vitamins and minerals). For example, bacteria grow rapidly in highprotein foods such as meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, and seafood. PH o Microorganisms thrive in a pH range above 4.6. That’s why acidic foods like vinegar and citrus juices are not favorable foods for pathogenic bacteria to grow; however, they may survive in these foods. Moisture o Most bacteria thrive in moist environments; they don’t grow on dry foods. That’s why dry foods like cereals can safely sit out at room temperature. o Note: If dry foods like dry cereals or spices become contaminated from infected hands or equipment, bacteria can survive on the food and make people sick, but they can’t grow or multiply until the food is consumed. Risky Foods for Food-borne Illness Risky foods are foods that are most likely to cause food-borne illness. Risky foods include: o Raw meat, poultry, eggs, milk (unpasteurized) and shellfish. o Raw fruits & vegetables which have been processed in unsanitary conditions (especially sprouts and unpasteurized fruit juices). o Cooked plant products like pasta, rice and vegetables. o Unpasteurized dairy products (soft cheeses). Extra care must be taken to avoid food-borne illness when handling these foods. Preventing Food-borne Illness To fight bacteria that may cause food-borne illness, follow these steps to food safety: o Cleaning: removes bacteria from hands and surfaces. o Cooking: kills bacteria by breaking down their cell walls and destroying enzymes, which they need to survive. o Chilling: slows down the bacteria’s metabolism, thus slowing their growth. o Combating Cross-Contamination (separating foods): prevents bacteria from spreading from one food item to another, or between foods and hands or surfaces/utensils. Clean CLEAN hands, surfaces and produce! Surfaces: o Sanitize counters and cutting boards after preparing raw meat or eggs. o Wash cutting boards, counters and utensils with hot, soapy water. o Wipe up spills in the refrigerator, microwave and stove immediately. Produce: o Wash raw produce under running water. Use a small vegetable brush to remove surface dirt. o Cut away any damaged or bruised areas. o Preventing Food-borne Illness Hands: o Wash hands before and after handling food; and after using the bathroom, handling pets, or changing diapers. Separate SEPARATE foods to avoid cross-contamination! Safely separate raw meat and seafood from other foods in your shopping cart and your refrigerator. Wash hands, cutting boards, dishes and utensils after they come in contact with raw meat, poultry, eggs and unwashed produce. Place cooked food on a clean plate. In the refrigerator, place raw foods in a sealed container at the bottom of the fridge to prevent meat juices from dripping on other food. Wipe up meat juice from all surfaces promptly and use a disinfecting spray. Cook Chill COOK foods thoroughly to destroys harmful bacteria that may be present in food: Foods are properly cooked when heated for a long enough time at a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria. o Ground Beef - Cook to an internal temperature of 165° F (72 ° C); should no longer be pink. o Meat & Poultry - Cook until juices run clear. Roasts & steaks to at least 145° F. and Poultry 165° F. o Seafood - Cook until opaque and flakes easily with a fork. o Leftovers - Reheat quickly at a high temperature. Internal temperature should be at least 165° F. Bring sauces, soups and gravies to a boil. Follow these COOL rules: o Keep foods out of the Danger Zone (40° F. - 140° F.) o Thaw foods in the refrigerator, microwave or under cold running water. o A refrigerator can be too full. Cold air must circulate to keep food safe. CHILL leftovers: o Remember the 2-hour rule - refrigerate foods within 2 hours. o Divide large amounts of leftovers into smaller, low containers for quick cooling. o Use a cooler or ice pack to keep perishable food cold, especially on hot summer days. o When in doubt, throw it out!