Keeping Safe From Foodborne Illness

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Food safety is paramount for people with diabetes. Common causes of food poisoning can be foods left out too long allowing bacteria to grow, meats, poultry or seafood cooked on the grill that didn't cook long enough or get hot enough to kill bacteria, eating foods after being outdoors and neglecting to wash our hands which could be contaminated with bacteria from things like soil or being in common areas.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that one in six Americans will get sick from food poisoning this year. Foodborne illness is serious and it is estimated that 48 million people get food poisoning each year, resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.

Food safety is important for everyone, but it is especially important for individuals who are more susceptible to food poisoning because of illnesses like diabetes.

That's because diabetes can affect various organs and systems of your body causing them not to function properly, making you more susceptible to infection.

Four basic steps to food safety:

1. Clean: wash hands and surfaces often. Bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen and get onto cutting boards, utensils, counter tops and food.

2. Separate: don't cross contaminate. Cross contamination occurs when bacteria are spread from one food product to another. This is especially common when handling raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs. The key is to keep these foods and their juices away from ready to eat foods.

3.Cook: Cook to safe temperatures. Foods are safely cooked when they are heated to the USDA-FDA recommended safe minimum internal temperatures.

4.Chill: Refrigerate promptly. Cold temperatures slow the growth of harmful bacteria. Keeping a constant refrigerator temperature of 40 degrees F or below is one of the most effective ways to reduce risk of foodborne illness.

To get a need to know guide for those who have been diagnosed with diabetes, contact the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline: 1-888-674-6854; or email mphotlinea.fsis@usda.gov; or go to the website fsis.outreach@usda.gov.