Wednesday, July 2, 2008

When good picnics go bad

Nothing can ruin a summer picnic faster than an attack of fire ants. Even worse, would be getting sick from something you ate. With the heat - and boy is it hot - we have to take special precautions with food. You don’t want your Fourth of July spoiled by food-borne illness, often referred to as food poisoning.

Making a visit to the hospital could wreck your budget. You wouldn’t be alone in the emergency room wondering if the chicken had gone bad.

Food-borne diseases are blamed for 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths in the United States each year at a cost of $5 to $6 billion in direct medical expenses and lost productivity.

Bacteria, such as salmonella and E. coli, can cause food-borne illness. Symptoms may include stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and headache.

Packing a safe picnic basket starts at home with proper food preparation and following simple hygiene practices like throughly washing your hands and sanitizing the counters. Once at the picnic site, remember to keep cold food cold (40 degrees F.) and hot foods hot (140 degrees F.)

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