NASSAU UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER OFFERS TIPS TO AVOID FOOD POISONING DURING HEIGHT OF PICNIC AND COOKOUT SEASON
Victor F. Politi, MD, FACP, FACEP Michael B. Mirotznik, Esq.,
President/CEO Chairman Board of Directors
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 15, 2017
August 15, 2017 (East Meadow, NY ) – Nassau University Medical Center President CEO, Dr. Victor Politi, is urging residents to be concerned about food-borne bacteria that can multiply fast in warm weather and lead to food poisoning, as Long Islanders begin to planning their end of summer picnics and cookouts.
“Food poisoning is typically on the rise during these warm summer months, especially now as people begin cramming in their last few picnics and grill outs before the start of the school year,” said Dr. Politi. “We urge everyone to protect themselves and their families in order to avoid the unpleasantness and potentially lethal consequences of food contamination.”
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, each year 1 in 6 Americans (roughly 48 million) get sick by consuming contaminated foods or beverages, while 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die.
Nassau University Medical Center officials note that the most common pathogens that cause food-borne illnesses come from the norovirus, salmonella, and e. coli.
“We recommend that all foods, whether hot or cold, spend no more than an hour in ‘the danger zone’,” said Politi, who noted that temperatures between 40 °F and 140°F are generally considered unsafe for foods to sit in during prolonged periods of time. Nassau University Medical Center also offers the following food safety tips for consideration from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for picnics and outdoor cookouts:
· Wash hands – If you’re in an outdoor setting with no bathroom, use a water jug, some soap, and paper towels. Consider carrying moist disposable towelettes for cleaning your hands.
· Keep raw food separate from cooked food – Don’t use a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood for anything else unless the plate has first been washed in hot, soapy water. Keep utensils and surfaces clean.
· Marinate food in the refrigerator, not out on the counter – And if you want to use some of the marinade as a sauce on the cooked food, reserve a separate portion. Don’t reuse marinade that contained raw meat.
· Cook food thoroughly – To kill any harmful bacteria that may be present, use a food thermometer. Hamburgers should be cooked to 160°F. If a thermometer is not available, make sure hamburgers are brown all the way through, not pink. Chicken should be cooked to at least 165°F. If you partially cook food in the microwave, oven or stove to reduce grilling time, do so immediately before the food goes on the hot grill.
· Refrigerate and freeze food promptly – Food should not be left out of the cooler or off the grill for more than two hours. Never leave food out for more than one hour when the temperature is above 90°F.
· Keep hot food hot – Hot food should be kept at or above 140°F. Hot food should be wrapped well and placed in an insulated container. If bringing hot take-out food such as fried chicken or barbecue to an outdoor party, eat it within two hours of purchase. In addition to bringing a grill and fuel for cooking to an outdoor location, remember to pack a food thermometer to check that your meat and poultry reach a safe internal temperature. When re-heating food at the outing, be sure it reaches 165°F.
· Keep cold food cold – Cold food should be held at or below 40°F. Foods like chicken salad and desserts that are in individual serving dishes can be placed directly on ice or in a shallow container set in a deep pan filled with ice. Drain off water as ice melts and replace ice frequently.
NuHealth is a Long Island health care organization delivering essential medical care and disease and lifestyle management to everyone at every stage of life. Also known as Nassau Health Care Corporation, NuHealth is a public benefit corporation managing the operations of Nassau Medical Center, A. Holly Patterson Extended Care and a network of Family Health Centers that bring primary and specialty care out into the community. By emphasizing wellness, cultural sensitivity and collaborative efforts with the North Shore-LIJ Health System, NuHealth is working to make good care more affordable and easier to access.
For more information about NuHealth or its Centers of Care, visit www.nuhealth.net.