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FOR RELEASE: January 9, 2001
Safe Food Handling Reduces Risk of Foodborne Diseases
Health officials warn that people may not be careful enough when it comes to handling, preparing and eating food. That puts them and others at risk for outbreaks of foodborne diseases. Foodborne infections such as Campylobacter, Salmonella and E. coli, make an estimated 6.5 million to 33 million people sick each year in the U.S.
One way to help ensure food is prepared safely is to correctly handle, prepare, and store food to avoid the risk of foodborne diseases. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), US Department of Agriculture, and Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) suggest the need for more consumer education on food handling safety.
A 1995-1996 telephone survey by the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, and CDC's Foodborne and Diarrheal Diseases Branch found that 25 percent of men and 14 percent of women do not routinely wash their hands with soap after handling raw meat or poultry.
Half of the respondents reported eating undercooked eggs, which can be contaminated with Salmonella enteritidis. Eating raw oysters has a risk of gastroenteritis and a rare type of blood poisoning.
Despite the publicity about the risk of E.coli infection associated with eating pink hamburger meat, one in five people surveyed consumed hamburgers that way. Also, drinking unpasteurized milk has the risk for bacteria such as Salmonella, Campylobacter and E. coli.
The survey concluded that better consumer education on food handling was needed throughout the food process, including the growing, processing, distributing, retailing and home preparation of food.
The federal and state health agencies suggest these consumer food safety tips:
In addition to basic food safety, special precautions should be taken when there are power outages that can cause problems with food safety. If people at home or those in food establishments have had a loss of power for more than four hours, take the following precautions with refrigerated food products:
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