SACRAMENTO – With the holiday season approaching, the California Department of Public Health is reminding people that you can stay physically and mentally healthy by taking simple steps before, during and after the holiday meal.
Bacteria can be found in foods such as meat and poultry and may cause illness if it isn’t cooked long enough, or if it’s inadequately cooled or improperly handled. It is important to carefully wash fresh produce and to not let uncooked food come in contact with raw meat or poultry and its juices.
“We can help ensure that foodborne illnesses don’t ruin our holidays by properly preparing and handling all of the ingredients, whether it is meat, poultry, fruit or vegetables,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, State Public Health Officer, and Public Health Department Director.
Most foodborne illnesses can be prevented by:
- Washing hands with soap and warm water before and after food preparation, especially after handling raw foods.
- Cleaning all work surfaces, utensils and dishes with hot soapy water and rinsing them with hot water after each use.
- Cooking food thoroughly and refrigerating leftovers promptly after meals.
- Preventing cross-contamination (from raw foods to foods that are ready to eat).
- Keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
Symptoms of foodborne illness can include diarrhea, which may be bloody, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and fever. Most infected people recover from foodborne illnesses within a week. However, some people may develop complications requiring hospitalization. Young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems are at the highest risk for potentially life-threatening complications. People with severe symptoms should see their doctor.
Make healthy choices this holiday season:
- Be physically activity, even if it is a quick walk. Even five minutes of physical activity has real health benefits.
- Treat the family with fun physical activity. When it is time to celebrate as a family, do something active as a reward. Plan a trip to the zoo, park or lake.
- Make healthy food choices. Watch portion sizes, fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables. Focus on whole fruits, a variety of vegetables and whole grains.
- Serve water at meals and avoid sugary drinks.
- If you choose to consume alcohol, limit your intake.
- Enjoy some “me” time and take a break from family and friends, if needed, to avoid feeling stressed.
“Even as the holidays can be a time of joy, they can also be stressful. Remember to take time for yourself and treat yourself well. Get enough sleep, stay physically active and aim for meals that are nutritionally balanced,” said Dr. Angell.
For more information about food preparation and storage, and physical fitness ideas, visit the following CDPH links:
- Food Safety Tips for Holiday Feasts
- Safe Food Handling Practices
- Foodborne Pathogens and Illnesses
- Controlling Food Allergens
- CalFresh Healthy Living
Additional information about food safety is available on the U.S. Department of Agriculture Meat and Poultry hotline at (888) MPHotline (674-6854). The hotline is open on Thanksgiving Day from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p. m., Eastern Standard Time, but closed on other Federal government holidays. Consumers can also access the Partnership for Food Safety Education’s “Fight BAC!” (bacteria) Web page.