Health Department Closes for Thanksgiving Holiday
The City of El Paso Department of Public Health would like to inform the public of changes to our hours of operation in observance of the Thanksgiving Holiday. All sites, including WIC Centers, will be closed on both Thursday, November 28th and Friday, November 29th 2012. The 2-1-1 Call Center will remain operational 24/7.
We would also like to take this opportunity to remind El Pasoans about the importance of food safety and stress the need to be vigilant when it comes to preparation and storage. The following information is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and following these simple steps can help keep your family safer from food poisoning at home.
CLEAN: Wash hands and surfaces often
Illness-causing bacteria can survive in many places around your kitchen, including your hands, utensils, and cutting boards.
· Wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and running water, making sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
· Wash surfaces and utensils after each use. Rinsing utensils, countertops, and cutting boards with water won’t do enough to stop bacteria from spreading. Clean utensils and small cutting boards with hot, soapy water. Clean surfaces and cutting boards with a bleach solution.
· Wash fruits and veggies but not meat, poultry, or eggs. Even if you plan to peel fruits and veggies, it’s important to wash them first because bacteria can spread from the outside to the inside as you cut or peel them.
SEPARATE: Don’t Cross-contaminate
Even after you’ve cleaned your hands and surfaces thoroughly, raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can still spread illness-causing bacteria to ready-to-eat foods—unless you keep them separate.
· Use separate cutting boards, plates, and utensils for raw (uncooked) produce and for raw (uncooked) meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.
· Keep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods while you’re shopping at the grocery store.
· Keep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods in the refrigerator.
COOK: To the right temperature
While many people think they can tell when food is “done” simply by checking its color and texture, there’s no way to be sure it’s safe without following a few important but simple steps.
· Use a food thermometer. Make sure food reaches its safe minimum cooking temperature. For example, internal temperatures should be 145°F for whole meats (allowing the meat to rest for 3 minutes before carving or eating), 160°F for ground meats, and 165°F for all poultry. Eggs should be cooked until the yolk is firm.
· During meal times, while food is being served and eaten, keep it hot (at 140 ?F or above). After meals are over, refrigerate leftover food quickly.
· Microwave food thoroughly (to 165 ?F).
CHILL: Refrigerate promptly
Illness-causing bacteria can grow in many foods within two hours unless you refrigerate them. (During the summer heat, cut that time down to one hour.)
· Refrigerate the foods that tend to spoil more quickly (like fruits and vegetables, milk, eggs, and meats) within two hours. Warm foods will chill faster if they are divided into several clean, shallow containers.
· Thaw or marinate foods in the refrigerator, never on the counter or in the kitchen sink.
· Know when to throw food out.
REPORT: If you believe you or someone you know became ill from eating a certain food, please contact the Department of Public Health.
· The department is an important part of the food safety system which relies on calls from concerned citizens. You can be an important part of discovering what foods made you and others sick.
· If a public health official contacts you to find out more about an illness you had, your cooperation is important. Be willing to be interviewed about the foods you ate before you got sick; share your store receipts and give permission for stores to share the list of food you purchased from their store; and allow investigators to come to your home to collect any leftover food you may have.
· In public health investigations, it can be as important to talk to healthy people as to ill people. Even if you are not ill, be willing to be interviewed about the foods you ate during a certain period of time.
For more information on preventing foodborne illnesses, please visit FoodSafety.gov, the federal gateway for food safety information.
The mission of the El Paso Department of Public Health is to work in partnership with people in our community to promote and protect the health of the borderland. For more information on the programs and services offered by the Department of Public Health, visit EPHealth.com or call 2-1-1.