As we round out the month of September, health educators and consumers are focusing on effective ways to prevent foodborne illness, or food poisoning, by promoting Food Safety Month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 48 million people — or one of every six — get food poisoning each year. Of those, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from a foodborne illness.
Food Safety Team Manager of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Troy Huffman sat down with CBS News Colorado's Mekialaya White to discuss ways to keep you and your family safe as part of Food Safety Month.
"It gives us the opportunity for a month out of the year to think about those simple things that we can do to try to prevent illness when we prepare and consume food," said Huffman. "Foodborne illnesses happen when germs are in food and can happen if we don't take proper steps and procedures."
There are several ways that you can handle food safely.
"First and foremost, the thing we can do is clean our products when we get fresh produce or fresh vegetables in that grocery store. And cleaning that produce. The next piece is storing it, separate from other items. If you've got raw chicken or a head of lettuce, that might not get cooked, we want to make sure those items are not stored underneath items where that stuff could drop down. Cooking is really important as well. We can kill a lot of germs off that product if we properly cook and the last part: We have that refrigerator, let's use it to chill. We recommend 41 degrees to be sure that things are safe."
Huffman is a Colorado food inspector as well and says there can be some misconceptions about food safety.
"My background is actually education and I bring that with me when I go out and work with our public health agencies when we train. When we do inspections, we really like to try to educate. That's my background, educate rather than regulate. I think one of the misnomers is that we are out to get people. And that's not the case. We really want to work with people and educate them in their businesses, in their restaurants to make sure things are done appropriately."
For more resources from the CDC, click here.
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