As the summer season approaches, we are ready for outdoor cookouts and picnics at the beach. Careful preparation, handling, and storage of foods can prevent food poisoning from sickening you and your guests.
Food poisoning results from eating food and drinking water contaminated by bacteria, parasites, and viruses. These germs can contaminate foods during the slaughtering process, with use of contaminated water during the growing process, and by unsanitary food handling either at home, restaurants, or grocery stores.
The proper handling of foods which contain dairy products or mayonnaise is very important to avoid food poisoning. E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus are bacteria that cause food poisoning from eating foods containing mayonnaise or dairy that have sat out of the refrigerator for too long. Salads which contain mayonnaise and desserts which have cream should not be left out of the refrigerator for more than two hours. If the outdoor temperature is 90 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, reduce the time to one hour. A cooler packed with ice is a safe way to store and transport any foods that contain dairy products or mayonnaise.Place the container of salad or dip in a larger dish of crushed ice during the time it is out of the refrigerator.
Raw vegetables and fruits that are used in salads or with dips need to be washed thoroughly. E. coli is a bacteria that causes food poisoning from eating raw fruits and vegetables that have not been washed well. Fruits and vegetables become contaminated with these germs when water, which contains manure or human waste, is used during the growing and shipping of the produce. Food poisoning is avoided by thorough washing of the produce. The public needs to be vigilant to any recall information of suspected contaminated produce.
The symptoms of food poisoning from Staphylococcus appear within one to six hours of eating the contaminated food. Symptoms from E. coli food poisoning usually occur within 24 to 72 hours following exposure. Fever, abdominal pain or cramping, and diarrhea are the common symptoms of food poisoning.