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Health 411: Food safety

Created date

November 24th, 2009

At holiday time, with all of the food preparation and parties, some people will get sick from foodborne illnesses. Seniors in particular are at risk because with aging may come production of less stomach acid, making it harder to get rid of harmful bacteria that enter the digestive system. Digestion may also slow down, allowing harmful bacteria to stay in the body longer. Also, changes in smell and taste can prevent detection of spoiled food. ' To reduce your risk, follow these guidelines for safe food handling: ' Refrigerate or freeze. This applies to all perishable foods. Refrigerator temperature should be 40 degrees Fahrenheit or less, freezer should be 0 degrees Fahrenheit or less. ' Never thaw food at room temperature. Use the refrigerator, cold water, or microwave. When using the microwave, you must cook the food immediately. ' Follow the two-hour rule. Eat food purchased or delivered hot within two hours. Perishable food should be discarded if it is left at room temperature longer than two hours. If the room temperature is 90 degrees Fahrenheit or greater, discard after one hour. ' Wash hands, utensils, cutting boards, and other work surfaces after contact with raw meat and poultry. This helps prevent cross-contamination. ' For more information about safe food handling, visit the Food Safety and Inspection Service (a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture) website at