TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
Did you know, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, more than 150 million hot dogs are consumed during the 4th of July Holiday? Amazing fact, right? However, there is a down side. Along with the awesome fireworks, patriotic parades and events, it is expected that approximately 48 million Americans will become sick from foodborne illness, approximately 128,000 will be hospitalized, and 3,000 will die all due to foodborne diseases? Your Tinker Air Force Base Public Health office would like to share some food safety tips that can help prevent you, your friends and your loved ones from becoming statistics.
Before we indulge ourselves in some yummy barbecued hot dogs, we must first talk about food safety and how improper food handling can cause illness or serious health issues. Here’s how to prevent food related illness from holiday festivities:
- Always keep your hands clean! Make sure you wash your hands often with warm water and a generous amount of soap for at least 20 seconds. Washing hands before and after preparing, serving and digesting food lessens the risk of food contamination.
- Keep raw meat and ready to eat items separated. Keep raw meats (such as turkey, chicken, ham, or beef) separated from ready-to-eat food items. Use different cutting boards and knives for meats. This prevents cross contamination from occurring, which is one of the most leading causes of foodborne illnesses.
- Cook food thoroughly. Food poisoning often comes from not cooking food to the appropriate temperatures. Have a food thermometer on hand to check the food items internal temperature to ensure it has reached a safe internal (thickest part of the meat) temperature. Visit https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/safe-minimum-cooking-temperature for cooking temperature guides on food other than listed below:
- Poultry – 165°F; Beef - 160°F; Pork - 165°F; Seafood - 145°F
- Keep food stored at appropriate temperatures. The food temperature “danger zone” is a temperature range between 41°F and 135ׄ°F where bacteria can grow rapidly, which can ultimately get people sick. Therefore, you should keep your refrigerated food items at 41°F and below and hot food items at 135°F and above. This will keep foods safe until consumed.
We all handle food every day and don’t give much thought to how easily a person can get sick from improper food handling or improper food preparation, but the statistic listed above goes to show how often food related illnesses can happen. So, although these are just a few simple food safety tips, following them can go a long way in helping you enjoy your favorite food items during this 4th of July holiday. Keep your food safe, enjoy the fireworks, and have Happy 4th of July!