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Flu symptoms could be caused by food germs

A lot of things have changed in the past twenty, fifteen,even 10 years,including food. In particular, the way we consume foodhas changed. Years ago, food was grown close to where people lived. Itwas pickedand eaten quickly. It wasn't stored and shipped longdistances, as it istoday.
In addition, most people ate all or most of theirmeals at home.Today many people eat close to half of their meals awayfrom home. Ifyou have a food concern (salt, for instance) eating outmakes it harder tocontrol than when preparing food at home.

Over the years, many more "germs" have beendiscovered. Some ofthese "germs" are in the food we eat. Some of these"germs" can makepeople sick. This is why it is so important to handle foodwith care.Older people, young children, pregnant women andpeople who have achronic disease (diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, etc.)are at a higherrisk for getting the bad side effects from these germs. Ifyou fit into oneof these groups, you should be very careful with yourfood.

Germs infood give people some of the same symptoms as the flu.Many timespeople think they have the flu, when really they havegotten sick fromgerms in food that wasn't prepared correctly.

It is sometimes hard to tell if a food is safe. Most of thetime, you cannotsee, smell or taste harmful germs.

Keep food at homesafe by following 4basic rules:

Clean -- wash hands and surfaces often with hotsoapy water; wash fruits and vegetables under cool running water

Separate -- keep raw meat, fish and poultry awayfrom foods that won't be cooked

Cook -- cook foods to the proper temperature

Chill -- refrigerate foods quickly because coldtemperatures keep most harmful germs from growing

In addition, keep hot food above 140 F. and cold foodbelow 40 F. Donot cool large pots of soup, stew or casseroles at roomtemperature. Putthe foods in shallow containers and refrigerate quickly.Unlike old iceboxes, today's refrigerators are made to handle hotfoods.

Never thawfood at room temperature. At room temperature germswill grow fast. Itis much safer to thaw food in the refrigerator. It willusually take 24hours to thaw 4 to 5 pounds of food. Plan for the thawing time.

When eating out, keep foods as safe as possible. Makesure the placeyou are eating looks clean. Always order foods fullycooked. If youorder a hot meal, make sure it is piping hot when youget it. If it is not,send it back. If there is too much food to eat, ask for adoggie bag --but remember the two- hour rule. Don't eat hot or cold foods that havebeen at room temperature for more than two hours (onehour in hotweather). If you will be making another stop before youreturn home,forget the doggie bag. It is better to be safe than sorry.Getting sickwill not save you money.

At home, use a meat thermometer to check when meatis done. Beefroasts and steaks should reach a minimum internaltemperature of 145 F,whole poultry (in the thigh) 180 F, chicken breast 170F, ground beef orpork 160 F, fresh pork 160 F, ground poultry 165 F andleftoversshould be heated to 165 F (steaming hot). Keep foodsafe.

---Kelli Bonifer
County Extension Agent for Family & Consumer Sciences
Adair County Cooperative Extension ServiceP. O. Box 309Columbia, KY 42728
PHONE: (270) 384-2317,FAX: (270) 384-9167,


This story was posted on 2003-10-12 09:42:15
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