Washington, DC – The DC Department of Health would like to remind residents of the importance of food safety as residents prepare for outdoor celebrations during Memorial Day weekend and throughout the summer months. Residents should always remember that food poisoning can occur by eating food that has not been well cleaned, cooked or stored at appropriate temperatures. Residents should take caution when preparing and eating foods outside, as a person can become sick from bacteria and viruses that are passed from person to person, typically by people who do not properly wash their hands. Symptoms of food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
“The start of summer can symbolize good food, and fun with friends and family, however, residents should keep in mind that the best way to ensure a good time this Memorial Day weekend is to practice safe and healthy food techniques,” said DOH Director Dr. Pierre N.D. Vigilance. “It is important that residents follow cleanliness and temperature guidelines when eating and preparing food outside, especially in the absence of easy access to running water and refrigeration.”
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends the following four simple steps to ensure food safety:
- Clean – Wash your hands and any food preparation surfaces often with warm, soapy water, particularly after handling raw food and going to the restroom.
- Separate – Pack raw food in a separate cooler from any ready-to-eat food items. Always rewash plates, cutting boards, and utensils that have touched raw food before using them again for cooked food.
- Cook – Cook food at temperatures high enough to kill harmful bacteria. Poultry should be cooked until an internal temperature of at least 165ºF is reached. Ground beef hamburgers should be cooked until an internal temperature of at least 160ºF is reached.
- Chill – Keep perishable items at below 40ºF by using ice cubes and ice packs. Leftovers should be put in a cooler as quickly as possible. Foods that should be kept cold are considered unsafe when left at 90ºF for more than one hour.
For more detailed information on safe outdoor food practices, you may visit the USDA Barbecue Food Safety page: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Barbecue_Food_Safety
If you think you may have gotten sick from something you may have eaten, please call the DOH Food Bourne Illness Coordinator at (202) 442-8141. If you are severely ill, please visit your health care provider.