Dodge the ‘Danger Zone’
Written by Cabarrus Health Alliance for Journeys Magazine--Download the digital issue now!
Food is often at the heart of events with family and friends. While the Cabarrus Health Alliance (CHA) monitors restaurants and some public events — such as those hosted by non-profit organizations that may be exempt — CHA does not monitor food preparation and presentation at private functions.
Take time to learn the basics of food safety. Follow these food preparation safety tips:
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water before touching food and after touching raw meat, going to the restroom, touching pets or changing diapers.
- Do not prepare food for others if you are sick with diarrhea, vomiting, sore throat accompanied by a fever, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and/or eyes) or if you have an infected cut or burn.
- Do not contaminate. Wash anything that makes contact with raw meat (such as a knife, cutting board or a plate) with hot, soapy water. Keep raw meats away from other foods. Remember to wash your hands.
- Only use recipes that require fully cooked eggs. Substitute pasteurized eggs for raw eggs when possible.
- Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of raw meats and casseroles. Place the thermometer in various places to make sure it reaches the right temperature across the entire dish.
- Keep the food out of “The Danger Zone”
Keep hot foods hot—135°F or above. Stir frequently to keep cold spots from occurring when preparing food in a large pot on a stove. Use an insulated container when transporting hot foods. Reheat to at least 165°F in the microwave or on the stove.
Keep cold foods cold—41°F or below. Use shallow containers to allow food to cool more quickly. Once cool, use ice or frozen gel packs if needed.
- When in doubt, throw it out. Discard any food that has sat out for more than two hours or if you think it may not be safe. Immediately refrigerate or freeze any leftovers.
Symptoms of foodborne illness may develop hours or days after consumption. Watch for these symptoms: stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fever.
If you suspect food prepared at a restaurant or gathering made you sick, report it to the Cabarrus Health Alliance at 704-920-1207.
Trusted resources on food safety:
Government Food Safety Information
Food and Drug Administration
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Partnership for Food Safety Education (Fight BAC!®)
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