Posts Tagged ‘food-borne illness’

Summer safety

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

keeping-your-baby-safe-in-the-sun_rdax_50Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer. If you are pregnant or have little ones at home, there are a lot of safety concerns to think about as the warmer weather approaches.

Food:

Keep these safety tips in mind when preparing foods that are frequently associated with food-borne illness:
• CLEAN: Wash hands and food preparation surfaces often. And wash fresh fruits and vegetables carefully.
• SEPARATE: Don’t cross-contaminate!  When handling raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs, keep these foods and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods.
• COOK: Cook to proper temperature. See the Minimum Cooking Temperatures chart for details on cooking meats, poultry, eggs, leftovers, and casseroles. After you remove meat from a grill, oven, or other heat source, allow it to rest for the specified amount of time. During the rest time, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys harmful germs.
• CHILL: At room temperature, bacteria in food can double every 20 minutes. The more bacteria there are, the greater the chance you could become sick. Refrigerate foods quickly because cold temperatures keep most harmful bacteria from multiplying

Sun:

Sunscreen is important for everyone! During pregnancy your skin is more sensitive to sunlight than it was before pregnancy. The sun gives off ultraviolet radiation (UV) which can increase the risk of skin cancer, give you a bad burn and increase signs of aging.

And a baby’s skin is thin and burns much more easily than an older child’s skin. This is especially true for babies younger than 6 months.

Here’s how you can stay safe in the sun:
• Do your best to avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This is when the sun’s rays are the strongest. If your baby is younger than 6 months, it is best to keep her in the shade and out of direct sunlight.
• Make sure that both of you wear a hat with a wide brim and sunglasses. Look for sunglasses that have 99 percent UV protection.
• Dress everyone in lightweight clothes that cover arms and legs.
• Wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days. And reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours. If you are at the beach or the pool, reapply more frequently. Water and sand increase sun exposure due to the reflection of the sun off these surfaces.

Water:

Did you know that drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death among children between 1 and 4 years old? And it’s the third leading cause of injury-related death among children 19 and under. Here are some tips for keeping your baby safe around the water:
• Never leave your child unattended around water. Babies can drown in as little as one inch of water.
• Avoid all distractions—including your cell phone! Young children need all of your attention when they are near or around water.
• Invest in proper-fitting, Coast Guard-approved flotation devices (life vests). For kids younger than 5 years old, choose a vest with a strap between the legs and head support.
• Learn CPR. It is a great skill to know. You can usually find programs in your community.

Remember these summer safety tips and enjoy your Memorial Day weekend!

Questions?  Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Picnic perils

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

bbq1The 4th of July seems to be when summer BBQs abound. Grills get fired up and freezers are stocked with popsicles. It’s always great to kick back and relax, but it’s also important to remember to keep foods fresh and safe from nasty things like salmonella and e coli.

If you’re part of what is called an “at-risk” or “vulnerable” population, a foodborne illness can be extremely dangerous. Symptoms—such as vomiting, diarrhea and fever—can intensify and the illness can become life-threatening. Those most at risk are the very young (under 1 year); older adults; the immune-compromised (those whose immune systems are less able to fight off harmful bacteria); and women who are pregnant.

Things to keep in mind while enjoying summer cookouts are:
• Keep raw meat and poultry separate from cooked or ready-to-eat foods.
• Minimize mayonnaise when you’ll be outside for long periods. I have stopped making potato salad with mayo and now use olive oil and lemon juice instead. It keeps much longer.
• Refrigerate any leftovers a.s.a.p., and never eat cooked food that has been out of the refrigerator longer than two hours.

If you’re pregnant, there are several more things you need to know, like avoiding soft cheeses, raw sprouts and unpasteurized juices, and limiting the amount of certain fish you eat. Be sure to read more about foods to avoid or limit during pregnancy on our web site.

Listeriosis – serious food poisoning

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Listeriosis, a kind of food poisoning caused by harmful germs in something you eat or drink, is especially serious when you’re pregnant. It can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and headache.

There are over 1,600 new cases of listeriosis each year in the United States. Most healthy people don’t get sick from listeriosis. It mostly affects people with a weakened immune system, including pregnant women. If you get listeriosis during pregnancy, it can cause serious health problems for your growing baby including miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, low birthweight, and life-threatening infections.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, pregnant women are 10 times more likely to get this serious form of food poisoning than others in the general population. And the risk is 24 times higher among pregnant Hispanic women, according to the Vital Signs report, released Tuesday by the CDC.

Most people get listeriosis by eating food that is contaminated with the bacteria Listeria. Food can come in contact with Listeria in soil, water, animals or animal poop.
Foods that may have Listeria include:
• Vegetables that come in contact with animal poop in the soil or in fertilizer
• Meats, including beef, pork and chicken
• Unpasteurized milk and foods made with it. If a food has been pasteurized, it’s been heated to kill bad germs. Milk and juices often are pasteurized. Look for the word “pasteurized” on the product label.
• Hot dogs (and juice from hot dogs) and deli meats, like ham, turkey, salami and bologna
• Pre-made or cold salads from delis or salad bars
• Pates or meat spreads that have been kept in a refrigerator. Canned meat spreads are safe.
• Soft cheeses, like feta, Brie, Camembert, Roquefort, blue-veined, queso blanco, queso fresco or Panela
• Smoked fish (nova style, lox, kippered or jerky) that has been kept in a refrigerator. Smoked fish is safe if it’s canned or you use it in a cooked dish (like a casserole).

Foods can cross contaminate each other. Cross contamination is the transfer of harmful bacteria from one thing to another. For example, if you use the same knife to cut raw chicken and tomatoes and don’t wash the knife in between, it can pass Listeria from the chicken to the tomatoes. Or if you get juice from a hot dog package on a knife, it can pass Listeria from the knife to the next food you cut.

You may hear news stories about foods that have been recalled (not allowed to be sold) because of listeriosis. If you’ve eaten one of these foods, call your health care provider right away.

Signs and symptoms of listeriosis usually start a few days after you’ve eaten infected food. But it can take up to 2 months for them to appear. To test for listeriosis, your provider takes a sample of your blood or urine, or fluid from your spine. Your provider sends the sample to a lab for testing.

Listeriosis usually causes mild, flu-like symptoms including fever, muscle aches, chills, nausea, diarrhea. If listeriosis infection spreads to your nervous system (brain and spinal cord), symptoms may include headache, stiff neck, being confused, trouble with balance or seizures. Call your health care provider if you think you may have listeriosis. Treatment depends on your symptoms. During pregnancy, quick treatment with antibiotics can keep listeriosis from harming your baby.

Here are some things you can do to help prevent listeriosis:
• Handle foods safely when you wash, prepare, cook and store them.
• Wash your hands well with soap and water after contact with animals, animal food, bedding, tanks or animal poop.
• Wash your hands well with soap and water after using the bathroom.
• Watch out for cross contamination between yourself, food and any utensils or supplies you use when preparing or eating food.

Millions of eggs recalled

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

eggBy now you have probably heard about the egg recall that has affected so much of the country.  The FDA reports that over 400 million eggs have been recalled and over 1300 people have become sick due to Salmonella. 

Salmonella is a bacterium that can be on both the inside and the outside of eggs.  In healthy adults, Salmonella infections generally cause diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramping and fever that lasts for several days.  Pregnant women, infants, and others with a compromised immune system can sometimes become seriously ill from these infections.  Occasionally, a pregnant woman can pass a Salmonella infection on to her fetus, who can develop diarrhea, fever and, less frequently, meningitis after birth.

The best thing you can do to prevent Salmonella and any other food-borne illnesses is to make sure you handle your food properly.  You can reduce your risk of salmonella by paying attention to a few things:

• Storage:  keep eggs refrigerated at all times.  That will prevent the Salmonella bacteria from growing.

• Hygiene:  Wash your hands, cooking utensils, and preparation surfaces with soap and water after contact with raw eggs.  Remember that Salmonella can be present on the egg’s shell, so that includes eggs that have not been cracked open yet.

• Consumption:  Avoid eating raw eggs, undercooked eggs, or unpasteurized eggs.  Make sure restaurants use pasteurized eggs in any recipes that call for raw eggs such as Hollandaise sauce or Caesar salad dressing.

Check your eggs, if you haven’t already, for the recalled product codes and make sure you discard them.  If you or your family members have any symptoms of Salmonella, make sure you contact your health care provider immediately.  And read our fact sheet on food-borne illnesses and how to keep you and your family safe—especially during pregnancy.

Romaine lettuce issues

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

romaine-lettuceIf you are working on getting to a healthy weight before getting pregnant, you may be eating lots of vegetables, fruits and plenty of salad. Last week you may have read or heard on the news that the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recalled certain packages of romaine lettuce due to an outbreak of food-borne illness that has sickened at least 19 people in three states.  Today, Vaughn Foods has now joined Freshway Foods in voluntarily recalling romaine lettuce packages with a “best if used by” date of May 12 or earlier.

I just read an update that federal and state officials confirm a link between the bagged romaine lettuce and E. coli O145 illness outbreak. While most adults recover from the diarrheal illness caused by E. coli within a week, E. coli O145 can turn into a very serious condition.  Symptoms of infection with harmful E. coli may range from none to mild diarrhea to severe complications. The acute symptoms include severe abdominal cramps and diarrhea, which may be bloody. Some people may get serious complications, such as kidney damage. The FDA and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) encourage anyone who has experienced the symptoms after eating romaine lettuce products described here to contact his or her health care provider immediately.

For more information, read the FDA update.