NDSU Extension - Sargent County


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Is it the flu or is it something else?

Is it the flu or is it something else?  2/3/17What we identify as “a touch of the flu” may actually be a mild case of foodborne illness.  An upset stomach (nausea), fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration are common symptoms of foodborne illness.  However, because many factors influence a person’s susceptibility or resistance to foodborne illness, it is possible that not everyone who is exposed to the culprit will experience the symptoms. 

Infants, young children, elderly adults, pregnant women, and anyone who already has a weakened or compromised immune system due to disease or treatment for disease are more susceptible to foodborne illness than are others.  Symptoms of foodborne illness can show up as soon as 30 minutes after the contaminated food or beverage was consumed.  In other cases, it can take up to six weeks for the symptoms to show up.

Temperature and time are the two most controllable factors for preventing foodborne illness. Temperatures between 41˚ F and 140˚F are considered to be the “danger zone” because these temperatures are very conducive to bacterial growth. Within this temperature range, the number of bacteria present in or on the surface of any perishable food can double every 10 to 30 minutes. For instance, one bacterium can grow into thousands of bacteria in just three hours. This is the science behind the recommendation that chicken, turkey, beef, pork, fully cooked ham, other meats, casseroles, and leftovers be thawed in the refrigerator, not at room temperature on the countertop or in a sink.

The temperature/time relationship is also the science behind the recommendation to quickly cool cooked foods to a safe temperature.  “Safe” is described as a temperature below 40˚ F.  To be successful at cooling foods quickly, remember that two hours is the maximum amount of time for leftovers to be at room temperature, and be sure the food or beverage is less than two inches deep in its container when it is placed into a cold refrigerator or freezer. 

Food safety recommendations regarding cooking foods to specific internal temperatures, as measured with a food thermometer, are also based on the science of temperature and time as it relates to bacteria. 

Following food safety recommendations helps protect your health and well-being, and the health and well-being of everyone who eats the food you prepare.  For more information about food safety contact the Extension office or go online at https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/food/food-safety.

Photo Source: https://pixabay.com/en/bbq-barbecue-gauge-temperature-1242180/  (downloaded 2/7/17)


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