Summer Food Safety

Summer is the perfect season for family gatherings, graduation parties, potlucks, BBQs, and more. Practicing good food safety at these events helps reduce your risk of getting sick from a foodborne illness (such as salmonella or norovirus). Sometimes, there can even be an outbreak of a foodborne illness affecting many people. The National Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 48 million (1 in 6) people every year in the U.S. get sick from a foodborne illness. The CDC lists five main causes of foodborne illnesses:

1) Keeping potentially hazardous food at the wrong temperature. Some food quickly grows bacteria when it is held between 40-140° F, also called the “danger zone”. Keep raw and prepared food that could spoil cold (40° F or below in the refrigerator or packed in ice) or hot (140°F or above in a crockpot, stove/oven, or on the grill) until being served. Any potentially hazardous food found to be in the “danger zone” for four or more hours should not be consumed and should be thrown away.

2) Cooking potentially hazardous food to the wrong temperature. Meat and dairy products can become contaminated with bacteria during processing, so it is important to thoroughly cook these items to a temperature that kills bacteria that can make you sick. For example, ground beef and bratwursts should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F as read by a food probe thermometer. A full temperature chart can be found here: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/safetempchart

3) Cross-contaminating food and surfaces. Follow these simple rules when handling raw meat or eggs:

  • Don’t rinse raw poultry in the kitchen sink. This can cause bacteria to splatter.
  • Wash hands, utensils, equipment, and work surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after they come in contact with raw eggs and raw meats.
  • Thoroughly rinse and/or scrub fruits and vegetables before cutting them up.

4) Failing to practice good hygiene or follow smart health rules when sick. Properly washing your hands is one of the simplest and most effective means of prevention against illness. When sick (especially when experiencing vomiting or diarrhea) you should avoid making food for others or frequenting public gatherings until you have been symptom-free for 48 hours.

5) Food from unsafe sources. Food, water, and even ice for consumption should all come from an approved supplier. Unregulated food and water sources pose a much greater risk for illness. Unregulated foods may be contaminated, diseased, or otherwise not fit for human consumption. Approved suppliers are regularly inspected and must maintain a food safety benchmark that protects consumers.

At public events where the food is prepared and served at the same location, the Barry-Eaton Health Department (BEDHD) is responsible for assessing and licensing temporary food service operations. If you think your event may require a temporary food service license, please contact BEDHD’s Environmental Health Division at (269) 945-9516 (Barry) or (517) 541-2615 (Eaton). Food prepared at home and shared at community gatherings is not inspected, but it may pose a much greater risk as attendees may not know if the food, kitchen, or the person(s) preparing the meal were following good food safety practices as outlined above. Symptoms of common foodborne illnesses include diarrhea, fever, dehydration, stomach cramps, upset stomach, nausea, and vomiting. People with these symptoms should call their health care provider and drink plenty of water, if possible, to avoid getting dehydrated. For more information on food safety and foodborne illness visit https://www.foodsafety.gov/index.html.

-From the Barry-Eaton District Health Department

Article posted on June 18th, 2019. - Article Permalink

ERMC Farmers Market opens for the season, draws crowds

The Eaton Rapids Medical Center (ERMC) Farmers Market opened for the 2019 season on Wednesday, May 29, drawing larger than anticipated numbers of shoppers. From the hours of 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. the local market saw more than 70 visitors browsing fresh produce, sampling local, hand-crafted goods, and chatting with the vendors assembled in the hospital parking lot.

Now in its ninth year, the ERMC Farmers Market serves the Eaton Rapids community by making fresh, local produce readily available, and promoting wellness through a healthy diet. The market also makes healthier eating more accessible to those of all income levels – SNAP EBT Bridge Cards, WIC, Project FRESH, Senior Project FRESH, Market FRESH Coupons, and Double-Up Food Bucks are all accepted, and encouraged. Many residents find their funds through these programs go further at the Farmers Market, and they get more for their money by supporting local farmers.

As an added resource for mothers and children this year, the Barry-Eaton District Health Department will be issuing $25.00 coupon booklets for WIC participants who are pregnant, postpartum or children ages 1-4 to use at local Farmers Markets throughout the summer of 2019. To receive this booklet, WIC participants should visit the Barry-Eaton District Health Department on Thursday, June 20 from 9:00 a.m. to noon, or 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.

Numerous ERMC volunteers and staff come together each year to make the Farmers Market a reality, and it’s rewarding for all to see the support and enthusiasm from the community. Leslie Neubecker-Czubko, registered dietitian nutritionist at Eaton Rapids Medical Center and the driving force behind the Farmers Market, works diligently to ensure the market is comprised of a diverse group of vendors each season. Last Wednesday’s offerings included fresh, hand-picked asparagus, homegrown rhubarb, and sun-ripened strawberries.

"We want our residents to support our local economy and their health by buying fresh fruits and vegetables at the market,” says Neubecker-Czubko. “We appreciate being able to provide a place where local produce vendors and community members can come together.”

The ERMC Farmers Market will be in the parking lot of the hospital every Wednesday from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. through October 2, 2019. If you would like to learn more about the market, the nutritional programs available at ERMC, or any other services offered by the hospital please visit https://www.eatonrapidsmedicalcenter.org/.

Article posted on June 4th, 2019. - Article Permalink

Summer Weather is Back, and so is West Nile Virus

Every year since 2001, Michigan communities have been affected by West Nile virus. This illness is most commonly caused by mosquito bites, which means that if someone lives in an area with mosquitos, they are at risk of getting the virus. Those who work or play outside are at the greatest risk. West Nile virus is not spread from person to person contact such as hugging, kissing, touching, or caring for someone with the virus.

Most people (70 to 80 percent) who have been exposed to West Nile virus do not get sick. When symptoms do occur they appear three to fifteen days after becoming infected from a mosquito bite. Symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, and sometimes skin rash and/or swollen glands. In some cases, the virus can cause encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, which can be fatal or cause permanent damage. If anyone develops any of these symptoms, they should call their health care provider.

The risk of contracting West Nile virus can be lowered if individuals follow these preventative tips:

  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. Visit https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/find-repellent-right-you to see what repellents are EPA registered.
  • Wear long sleeved shirts and pants. Dress children in long sleeved clothing as well.
  • Use mosquito netting over strollers, cribs, beds, and when sleeping outside.
  • Install screens or repair holes in screens around one’s home to keep mosquitos outside.
  • Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, tightly cover, or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, or trash containers. Mosquitoes lay eggs in water. If you have a septic tank, be sure to repair cracks or gaps.
  • Indoor and outdoor sprays to kill mosquitoes are also available. If used, be sure to follow instructions carefully. Dying or dead birds may indicate West Nile virus in your community, because they are carriers of the virus. If someone sees a dying or dead bird, they should report it to https://secure1.state.mi.us/ORS/Survey/4.

For more information on West Nile virus, individuals can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at https://www.cdc.gov/westnile or the Barry-Eaton District Health Department’s website at https://www.barryeatonhealth.org/bats-ticks-mosquitoes-and-animal-bites.

-From the Barry-Eaton District Health Department

Article posted on June 6th, 2019. - Article Permalink

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