Practicing food safety to avoid illness

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, foodborne illness hits one in six Americans every year. 

That data shows that 48 million people get sick with 148,000 people ending up in the hospital and 3,000 people dying each year.

Many of the recent food outbreaks happened in raw or uncooked foods. Local health experts say those foods are at a higher risk for spreading bacteria that would otherwise be killed in the cooking process.

One dietitian says people can prevent foodborne illness at with a few simple steps.

"One of the things you can do at home is to make sure you are washing your hands before preparing foods, using clean utensils, separate cutting boards for foods that are raw like raw meats versus fresh fruits and vegetables," said Jamie Pronschinske, Registered Dietitian at Mayo Clinic Health System. "Making sure you are cooking foods to the proper temperature by using a food thermometer to make sure meats are well done, your eggs aren’t runny, things like that."

Pronschinske says that proper food storage is also important. Cold food should be kept at under 40° F with hot foods kept at above 140° F. Any food outside of those temperatures should be tossed after two hours.

Although it may seem that food outbreaks are on the rise, Pronschinske says there could be another explanation.

"Reporting of those food outbreaks has increased, so it may seem like there are more because people are reporting them," she said. "I also think that when they are announced it gains a lot of publicity, so there’s just more attention on those things."

She says senior citizens, pregnant women, and those with other health problems are at an increased risk for contracting a foodborne illness.

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