Burlington County shares tips on food safety for the holiday season

This holiday season, the Burlington County Health Department is sharing tips that can take one worry off your plate: food-borne illness.

Food safety is important and around the holidays, mistakes in the kitchen can lead to foodborne illness.

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in six Americans have food-borne illness annually, leading to approximately 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths each year. Holiday turkey meals have been linked to outbreaks of bacterial diseases caused by Salmonella and E. coli.

“Food safety is a high priority for the Burlington County Health Department,” said Burlington County Freeholder Mary Ann O’Brien. “A few simple steps will not only ease your holiday fears, but will ensure a delicious and a safe meal for you, your family, and your friends.”

Here are some tips to prepare for your holiday event:

· Clean: Wash hands and food-contact surfaces often. Bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen and get onto cutting boards, knives, sponges and counter tops.

· Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate. Don’t let bacteria spread from one food product to another. This is especially true for raw meat, poultry and seafood. Keep these foods and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods.

· Cook: Cook to proper temperatures. Foods are properly cooked when they are heated for a long enough time and at a high enough temperature to kill the harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness.

· Chill: Refrigerate promptly. Public health officials advise consumers to refrigerate foods quickly because cold temperatures keep most harmful bacteria from growing and multiplying. Refrigerators should be set at 40 degrees F and the freezer at 0 degrees F, and the accuracy of the settings should be checked occasionally with a thermometer.

For more information about food safety please visit the Health Department website at: www.co.burlington.nj.us/Pages/pages.aspx?cid=434

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