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Virginia Foodborne Illnesses and Holiday Food Preparation Tips

December 19, 2012 by The Parrish Law Firm

We all know that with the holiday season comes gourmet food, bigger waistbands and plenty of wine! Parrish Law Firm, PLLC supports all of the above, but we also want to make sure that the food you’re eating won’t get you sick with a foodborne illness. Here is some information, courtesy of the Food and Drug Administration, on food poisoning and food preparation to make sure you and your family stay healthy and full during the holidays.

Symptoms of Foodborne Illnesses

Generally, the symptoms of food poisoning mirror those of the flu and can include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Flu-like symptoms

These symptoms may come on within hours or days of eating or drinking the contaminated product. While they won’t last long for someone who is healthy, those that are elderly, infants or young children, pregnant, or are battling cancer, HIV/AIDS, or those with a weakened immune system for any reason can be seriously affected.

Food Preparation Tips

Proper food preparation is key in order to avoid contracting a foodborne illness. If you follow these four important tips, you will go a long way in preventing holiday cheer from turning into holiday fear of your cooking.

  1. Keep everything clean. Wash your hands for at least twenty seconds with warm water, and wash surfaces that come into contact with food thoroughly before moving onto the next item. Do not rinse raw meat or poultry before cooking, as this can spread bacteria.
  2. Separate foods. Use one cutting board for those foods that will be cooked, and another board for those that won’t. Make sure not to put cooked food onto unwashed plates that once held raw products.
  3. Cook foods thoroughly. Utilize a food thermometer and don’t simply rely on color to determine the doneness of meat, poultry and fish. When reheating sauces or soups, bring them to a rolling boil to kill any bacteria. Don’t eat uncooked cookie dough containing raw eggs (no matter how tempting it is!).
  4. Chill foods quickly. All foods that require refrigeration need to be put in the fridge within two hours, or you risk rapid bacteria growth. Your refrigerator temperature should be below 40ºF and your freezer at or below 0ºF. When defrosting food, do so in the fridge and not at room temperature. Leftovers should be consumed within three to four days.

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