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Foodborne Illness Wreaks Havoc During Summer Months: Top Tips For Consumers To Grill Food Safely This 4th Of July
Updated June 27, 2018 7:36 AM | Filed under: Health
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(UNDATED) - Retail beef sales jump 20 percent during the 4th of July holiday, one of the most popular times to grill, therefore it's critical that consumers take the necessary steps to protect their families from foodborne illness (commonly known as food poisoning).

Incidents surge during the summer because harmful bacteria multiply more quickly in the hot and humid climate, and more people are cooking outside at picnics, the beach and on camping trips, away from the conveniences of the kitchen that help them stay safe. You also can't see or smell bacteria on meat or poultry, so it's important to make sure your favorite summer foods are being cooked properly.

In preparation for July 4th festivities and throughout the summer months, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service is shedding light on the high risks of food poisoning and aiming to motivate consumers to take specific actions to reduce their risk and keep their families healthy.

Each year, millions of people in the United States get sick from contaminated food. Symptoms of food poisoning include upset stomach, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and dehydration. Symptoms may range from mild to severe.

Bacteria and viruses are the most common cause of food poisoning. The symptoms and severity of food poisoning vary, depending on which bacteria or virus has contaminated the food.

The bacteria and viruses that cause the most illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths in the United States are:

Salmonella - Salmonella, the name of a group of bacteria, is one of the most common causes of food poisoning in the United States. Usually, symptoms last 4-7 days and most people get better without treatment. But, Salmonella can cause more serious illness in older adults, infants, and persons with chronic diseases. Salmonella is killed by cooking and pasteurization. Sources include contaminated eggs, poultry, meat, unpasteurized milk or juice, cheese, contaminated raw fruits and vegetables (alfalfa sprouts, melons), spices, and nuts Animals and their environment: Particularly reptiles (snakes, turtles, lizards), amphibians (frogs), birds (baby chicks) and pet food and treats. The incubation period is 12-72 hours. Symptoms include diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, vomiting with a duration of 4-7 days. Drink plenty of fluids and get rest. If you cannot drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration or if your symptoms are severe, call your doctor. Antibiotics may be necessary if the infection spreads from the intestines to the blood stream. You can prevent it by avoid eating high-risk foods, including raw or lightly cooked eggs, undercooked ground beef or poultry, and unpasteurized milk and keeping food properly refrigerated before cooking. Clean hands with soap and warm water before handling food. Clean surfaces before preparing food on them. Separate cooked foods from ready-to-eat foods. Do not use utensils on cooked foods that were previously used on raw foods and do not place cooked foods on plates where raw foods once were unless it has been cleaned thoroughly. Cook foods to a safe internal temperature. Use a meat thermometer to make sure foods are cooked to a safe temperature. Chill foods promptly after serving and when transporting from one place to another. Wash your hand after contact with animals, their food or treats, or their living environment.

Norovirus (Norwalk Virus) - Noroviruses are the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis (infection of the stomach and intestines) in the United States. Norovirus illness spreads easily and is often called stomach flu or viral gastroenteritis. People who are infected can spread it directly to other people, or can contaminate food or drinks they prepare for other people. The virus can also survive on surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus or be spread through contact with an infected person. Produce, shellfish, ready-to-eat foods touched by infected food workers (salads, sandwiches, ice, cookies, fruit), or any other foods contaminated with vomit or feces from an infected person The incubation period is 12-48 hours. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea,and stomach pain. Diarrhea tends to be watery and non-bloody. Diarrhea is more common in adults and vomiting is more common in children. The duration of Illness is 1-3 days. Among young children, old adults, and hospitalized patients, it can last 4-6 days. Drink plenty of fluids and get rest. If you cannot drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration, call your doctor. You can prevent it by washing hands frequently with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds, particularly after using the bathroom and before preparing food. If you work in a restaurant or deli, avoid bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat foods. Clean and disinfect surfaces contaminated by vomiting or diarrhea (use a bleach-based household cleaner as directed on the label). Clean and disinfect food preparation equipment and surfaces. If you are ill with diarrhea or vomiting, do not cook, prepare, or serve food for others. Wash fruits and vegetables and cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly before eating them. Wash clothing or linens soiled by vomit or fecal matter immediately. Remove the items carefully to avoid spreading the virus. Machine wash and dry.

Campylobacter - Campylobacter is one of the most common causes of food poisoning in the United States. The vast majority of cases occur as isolated events, not as part of recognized outbreaks. Sources are raw and undercooked poultry, unpasteurized milk, contaminated water. The incubation period is 2-5 days. Symptoms include diarrhea, cramps, fever, and vomiting; diarrhea may be bloody. The duration of Illness is 2-10 days. Drink plenty of fluids and get rest. If you cannot drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration or if your symptoms are severe, call your doctor. In more severe cases, certain antibiotics can be used and can shorten the duration of symptoms if given early in the illness. To prevent it always cook meat, especially poultry, to safe minimum temperatures. Keep raw meat, especially poultry, separate from other foods. Do not drink raw or unpasteurized milk.

E. Coli - E Coli is the name of a type of bacteria that lives in your intestines and in the intestines of animals. Although most types of E. coli are harmless, some types can make you sick. The worst type of E. coli, known as E. coli O157:H7, causes bloody diarrhea and can sometimes cause kidney failure and even death. E. coli O157:H7 makes a toxin called Shiga toxin and is known as a Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC). There are many other types of STEC, and some can make you just as sick as E. coli O157:H7. One severe complication associated with E. coli infection is hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The infection produces toxic substances that destroy red blood cells, causing kidney injury. HUS can require intensive care, kidney dialysis, and transfusions. E Coli comes from contaminated food, especially undercooked ground beef, unpasteurized (raw) milk and juice, soft cheeses made from raw milk, and raw fruits and vegetables (such as sprouts). Contaminated water, including drinking untreated water and swimming in contaminated water. Animals and their environment: particularly cows, sheep, and goats. If you don't wash your hands carefully after touching an animal or its environment, you could get an E. coli infection and feces of infected people. The incubation period is 1-10 days. Symptoms include severe diarrhea that is often bloody, severe abdominal pain, and vomiting. Usually, little or no fever is present. Symptoms of HUS include decreased urine production, dark or tea-colored urine, and facial pallor. The duration of the illness is 5-10 days. Most people will be better in 6-8 days. If HUS develops, it usually occurs after about 1 week. Drink plenty of fluids and get rest. If you cannot drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration or if your symptoms are severe (including blood in your stools or severe abdominal pain), call your doctor. Antibiotics should not be used to treat this infection. You can prevent getting E Coli by avoid eating high-risk foods, especially undercooked ground beef, unpasteurized milk or juice, soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk, or alfalfa sprouts. Use a food thermometer to make sure that ground beef has reached a safe internal temperature of 160° F. Wash hands before preparing food, after diapering infants, and after contact with cows, sheep, or goats, their food or treats, or their living environment.

Listeria - Listeria is the name of a bacteria found in soil and water and some animals, including poultry and cattle. It can be present in raw milk and foods made from raw milk. It can also live in food processing plants and contaminate a variety of processed meats. Listeria is unlike many other germs because it can grow even in the cold temperature of the refrigerator. Listeria is killed by cooking and pasteurization. Sources include ready-to-eat deli meats and hot dogs, refrigerated pâtés or meat spreads, unpasteurized (raw) milk and dairy products, soft cheese made with unpasteurized milk, such as queso fresco, Feta, Brie, Camembert, refrigerated smoked seafood, raw sprouts. The incubation period is 3-70 days. Symptoms include fever, stiff neck, confusion, weakness, vomiting, sometimes preceded by diarrhea. The duration of illness is days to weeks. Those at risk are older adults, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems, organ transplant patients who are receiving drugs to prevent the body from rejecting the organ, people with certain diseases, such as: HIV/AIDS or other autoimmune diseases, cancer, end-stage renal disease, liver disease, alcoholism and diabetes. Pregnant women are approximately 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get listeriosis. In pregnant women, it is typically a mild, flu-like illness. In the child, listeriosis can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, or life-long health problems. If you are very ill with fever or stiff neck, consult your doctor immediately. Antibiotics given promptly can cure the infection and, in pregnant women, can prevent infection of the fetus. To prevent it do not drink raw (unpasteurized) milk, and do not eat foods that have unpasteurized milk in them. Wash hands, knives, countertops, and cutting boards after handling and preparing uncooked foods. Rinse raw produce thoroughly under running tap water before eating. Keep uncooked meats, poultry, and seafood separate from vegetables, fruits, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods. Thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources, such as meat, poultry, or seafood to a safe internal temperature. Wash hands, knives, countertops, and cutting boards after handling and preparing uncooked foods. Consume perishable and ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible. Persons in higher risk groups should heat hot dogs, cold cuts, and deli meats before eating them.

Clostridium Perfringens - Clostridium perfringens (C. perfringens) is one of the most common causes of food poisoning in the United States. According to some estimates, this type of bacteria causes nearly a million illnesses each year. Cooking kills the growing C. perfringens cells that cause food poisoning, but not necessarily the spores that can grow into new cells. If cooked food is not promptly served or refrigerated, the spores can grow and produce new cells. These bacteria thrive between 40-140˚F (the "Danger Zone"). This means that they grow quickly at room temperature, but they cannot grow at refrigerator or freezer temperatures. C. perfringens infections often occur when foods are prepared in large quantities and are then kept warm for a long time before serving. That's why outbreaks of these infections are usually linked to institutions (such as hospitals, school cafeterias, prisons, and nursing homes) or events with catered food. Sources are beef, poultry, gravies. Incubation period is 6-24 hours. Symptoms include diarrhea and abdominal cramps (not fever or vomiting). Duration of the illness is 24 hours or less. In severe cases, symptoms may last for 1-2 weeks. Older adults, infants and young children are at risk. Drink plenty of fluids and get rest. If you cannot drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration, call your doctor. Thoroughly cook foods, particularly meat, poultry, and gravies, to a safe internal temperature, use a food thermometer keep food hot after cooking (at 140˚ F or above), microwave reheated food thoroughly (to 165˚F or above), refrigerate perishable foods within two hours (at 40˚F or below), divide leftovers into shallow containers and refrigerate immediately. Do not let them cool on the counter.

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