Health and Family Services Cabinet
Celebrate Memorial Day Safely
Public Health Issues Safety Guidelines for Food Handling, Swimming
Memorial Day weekend is considered the unofficial beginning of summer, marking the start of outdoor gatherings, barbecues and swimming. In honor of these traditions, the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) wants to remind outdoor dining and swimming enthusiasts of some tips to stay safe during family get-togethers and swimming outings planned for the season.
“The onset of summer is reason to celebrate for many people, especially those who enjoy outdoor parties and water sports,” said William Hacker, M.D., acting undersecretary for health and DPH commissioner. “They certainly are wonderful activities, and we want all Kentuckians to enjoy them. Still, we have to be mindful of public health and safety.”
DPH has compiled a list of basic safety tips to follow to avoid illnesses linked to improperly stored/prepared food or swimming in contaminated waters.
− Wash your hands before and after handling food. Be sure all utensils and plates are clean before preparing or serving food.
− Use the refrigerator for slow, safe thawing or thaw under cool running water. You may use the microwave for thawing, but grill immediately.
− Marinate in the refrigerator, not on the counter.
− Always use a meat thermometer to check internal meat temperatures. Color is not a reliable indicator of doneness. Cook food to the proper internal temperature:
─ Ground beef, 155 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds
─ Poultry and stuffed meats, 165 degrees F for 15 seconds
─ Pork products, 150 degrees F for 15 seconds
─ Other products, 140 degrees F for 15 seconds
─ Reheating leftovers, 165 degrees F for 15 seconds
DPH also recommends keeping meat and poultry refrigerated until ready to use. After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, keep it at 140 degrees F or warmer. In weather warmer than 90 degrees F, food should never sit out for more than two hours. Refrigerate any leftovers promptly in shallow containers to ensure they’re cooled quicker and more thoroughly.
In addition, DPH also stressed the importance of healthy swimming behaviors in preventing recreational water illnesses (RWIs). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local health departments across the country investigated more RWI outbreaks in 2007 than ever before, many linked to Cryptosporidium (“Crypto”), a chlorine-resistant parasite.
Awareness of RWIs and healthy swimming behaviors play an important role in stopping transmission of the illnesses. Germs on and in swimmers’ bodies end up in the water and can make other people sick. Even healthy swimmers can get sick from RWIs, but young people, the elderly, pregnant women and immunosuppressed people are especially at risk. Specific actions you can take to promote healthy swimming include:
− Do not swim when you have diarrhea.
− Do not swallow pool water or get pool water in your mouth.
− Shower before swimming (children too).
− Wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.
− Take children on bathroom breaks or change diapers often.
− Change children’s diapers in a bathroom, not at poolside.
For more information, contact Margo Riggs, Ph.D., CDC epidemiologist assigned to DPH, at MargaretA.Riggs@ky.gov or (502) 564-3418, ext. 3703, or Vonia Grabeel, environmental health section supervisor, at Vonia.Grabeel@ky.gov or (502) 564-4856, ext 3724.
For information about food safety, contact the food safety branch at (502) 564-7181, or your local health department.