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Salmonella or Botulism? Which one are you serving?

Updated: Nov 30, 2021

Bacteria. Food-Borne Illnesses. Salmonella.Botulism. E. Coli. Listeria...

Scary words to think about especially when many of us are making plans for Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends. You don't want to be serving up a big helping of food-borne illness (unless, of course, you don't like your family and friends).

As careful as we can be with cooking from making sure the food is cooked at the proper temperatures and that you have kept your work surfaces clean, there is always a chance that someone could get sick.

Food-borne illness or food poisoning?

When I took a food safety class several years ago, one thing we were taught is that the proper term for getting sick from food is a food-borne illness. The instructor made it clear that "food poisoning" is what happens if the food is actually poisoned.

Well, whatever you choose to call it, getting sick from food is no fun.

Here are symptoms that are often the result of "food poisoning." (1)

  1. Diarrhea

  2. Vomiting

  3. Abdominal Pain and Cramping

  4. Fever

  5. Headaches

  6. Chills

  7. Muscle Aches

  8. Difficulty Swallowing or Dry Mouth

Some food-borne illnesses only last a few hours, while some can last several days. Some have one or two symptoms, while others might cause multiple symptoms. Diarrhea is the most prevalent.

But wouldn't it be great if we could lessen the chances of anyone getting sick in the first place?

But how?

While no system is ever 100% foolproof, there are some steps that can be taken to ensure the probability of an illness-free event.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has four steps that can help you have a better and safer holiday or meal any time of the year.

Following four simple steps at home—Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill—can help protect you and your loved ones from food poisoning. —CDC graphic

1. Clean: Wash your hands and surfaces often.

  • Germs that cause food poisoning can survive in many places and spread around your kitchen.

  • Wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water before, during, and after preparing food and before eating.

  • Wash your utensils, cutting boards, and countertops with hot, soapy water.

  • Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running water.

2. Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate.

  • Raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can spread germs to ready-to-eat foods—unless you keep them separate.

    • Use separate cutting boards and plates for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.

    • When grocery shopping, keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and their juices away from other foods.

    • Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods in the refrigerator.

3. Cook to the right temperature.

  • Food is safely cooked when the internal temperature gets high enough to kill germs that can make you sick. The only way to tell if food is safely cooked is to use a food thermometer. You can’t tell if food is safely cooked by checking its color and texture.

  • Use a food thermometer to ensure foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature. Check out this chart from (3) for a detailed list of temperatures and foods, including shellfish and precooked ham. (For your convenience, it is also just below this section.)

    • Whole cuts of beef, veal, lamb, and pork, including fresh ham (raw): 145°F (then allow the meat to rest for 3 minutes before carving or eating)

    • Fish with fins: 145°F or cook until flesh is opaque

    • Ground meats, such as beef and pork: 160°F

    • All poultry, including ground chicken and turkey: 165°F

    • Leftovers and casseroles: 165°F

4. Chill: Refrigerate promptly. Bacteria can multiply rapidly if left at room temperature or in the “Danger Zone” between 40°F and 140°F. Never leave perishable food out for more than 2 hours (or 1 hour if exposed to temperatures above 90°F).

  • Keep your refrigerator at 40°F or below and know when to throw food out. (If in doubt, throw it out!)

  • Refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours. If the food is exposed to temperatures above 90°F (like a hot car or picnic), refrigerate it within 1 hour.

  • Thaw frozen food safely in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. Never thaw foods on the counter because bacteria multiply quickly in the parts of the food that reach room temperature. (2)

Don't forget to use Vital Oxide to keep your kitchen and home safe

One of the best things you can do to get your home and kitchen ready for your guests is to make the use of Vital Oxide a routine in your home.

Vital Oxide is an all-purpose cleaner that is also an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered disinfectant. It can be used on most surfaces to clean, sanitize and disinfect. Because it kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, including influenza and SARS-CoV-2 (the COVID-19 virus), without harsh chemicals, noxious odors, harmful residues, or alarming safety warnings, you can feel safe using it in your home and other meeting places. It is also safe to use around pets and for disinfecting food preparation areas.

You can read more about how to use Vital Oxide to keep your kitchen sanitized this holiday and every day in our blog post-Tis the season to be . . . safe! Tips on keeping your holidays healthier!!

Have a happy holiday season from Last Germ.

If you want to learn more about how Vital Oxide and/or how the 2-step process can help you or if you have any questions about how it all works, you can contact an agent near you. They will be happy to assist you.


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