Avoid foodborne diseases this summer

By Tanya Davis | Published Wednesday, June 13, 2018

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Don’t get bugged by a foodborne illness this summer.

Did you know that foodborne illnesses increase during summer months? It’s true, diseases caused by eating contaminated food rise during the warmer months due to warmer temperatures and poor food handling practices.

Rebecca Dittmar, Extension program specialist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Food and Nutrition Unit provides a closer look into salmonella, one of the major sources of foodborne illnesses each year.

Salmonella can be found in a variety of foods, including meat products, vegetables, eggs, sprouts and processed foods. Foods that are affected tend to look and smell fine, making it hard to tell if it is contaminated.

Salmonella illnesses can be serious and are more dangerous for certain individuals. Symptoms typically appear within six to 48 hours after ingestion and often last four to seven days. Many people recover without the use of antibiotic medications. Some individuals are at a higher risk of contracting the illness, such as the elderly, infants, and individuals with weakened immune systems. In these individuals, symptoms can be more severe, causing a serious health risk. It has been noted that for every one case of salmonella that is confirmed, there are about 29 more cases that go unreported.

Most individuals can fight this illness without seeking medical treatment.

Warmer weather helps create ideal conditions for salmonella growth. When eating outdoors this summer, it is important to keep perishable foods cold until consumption and refrigerate all leftovers within two hours of being set out and one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees. Avoid eating raw or undercooked eggs and egg products.

Be aware of who will be in attendance at your next summer cooking experience and always remember to handle, cook and store foods properly. For information on preventing foodborne illnesses, contact the Extension office, 940-627-3341.

Tanya Davis is a Wise County Extension agent.

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