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Food-borne illnesses, such as hepatitis A, salmonella and E. coli are increasing in incidence throughout the United States. To help prevent food-borne illness, the public is encouraged to follow simple safe food guidelines.
Top Ten Least Wanted Food-Borne Pathogens
This viral disease, also called infectious hepatitis, has an abrupt onset of fever, unusual fatigue, nausea and abdominal discomfort, followed within a few days by dark urine and jaundice.
This bacteria causes abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and fever. Dehydration, especially among infants, may be severe. The illnesses may persist for several days.
This bacteria causes an intestinal disease characterized by diarrhea with fever, nausea and sometimes vomiting and cramps. This may last four to seven days.
The parasite infects the upper small intestine and causes symptoms such as chronic diarrhea, abdominal cramps, bloating, frequent loose stools, fatigue and weight loss.
This is an emerging bacterial infection with symptoms similar to shigella, but which may cause severe kidney complications in some children.
Gastroenteritis means inflammation of the stomach and small and large intestines. Viral gastroenteritis is an infection caused by a variety of viruses, resulting in vomiting or diarrhea. It is often called the "stomach flu," although it is not caused by the influenza viruses.
Norovirus is a very contagious virus that can infect anyone. You can get it from an infected person, contaminated food or water or by touching contaminated surfaces.
Bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen and get onto cutting boards, utensils, sponges and counter tops. Wash your hands with hot soapy water before handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers and handling pets. Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counter tops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next food. Use plastic or other non-porous cutting boards. These boards should be run through the dishwasher - or washed in hot soapy water - after use. Consider using paper towels to clean up kitchen surfaces. If you use cloth towels, wash them often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.
Cross-contamination is the scientific word for how bacteria can be spread from one food product to another. This is especially true when handling raw meat, poultry and seafood, so keep these foods and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods. Separate raw meat, poultry and seafood from other foods in your grocery shopping cart and in your refrigerator. If possible, use a different cutting board for raw meat products. Always wash hands, cutting boards, dishes and utensils with hot soapy water after they come in contact with raw meat, poultry and seafood. Never place cooked food on a plate which previously held raw meat, poultry or seafood.
Food safety experts agree that foods are properly cooked when they are heated for a long enough time and at a high enough temperature to kill the harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Use a clean thermometer, which measures the internal temperature of cooked foods, to make sure meat, poultry, casseroles and other food are cooked all the way through. Cook roasts and steaks to at least 145F. Whole poultry should be cooked to 180F. for doneness. Cook ground beef, where bacteria can spread during processing, to at least 160F. Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) links eating undercooked, pink ground beef with a higher risk of illness. If a thermometer is not available, do not eat ground beef that is still pink inside. Cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm. Don't use recipes in which eggs remain raw or only partially cooked. Fish should be opaque and flake easily with a fork. When cooking in a microwave oven, make sure there are no cold spots in food where bacteria can survive. For best results, cover food, stir and rotate for even cooking. If there is no turntable, rotate the dish by hand once or twice during cooking. Bring sauces, soups and gravy to a boil when reheating. Heat other leftovers thoroughly to at least 165F.
Refrigerate foods quickly because cold temperatures keep harmful bacteria from growing and multiplying. So, set your refrigerator no higher than 40F and the freezer unit at 0F. Check these temperatures occasionally with an appliance thermometer. Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared foods and leftovers within two hours or sooner. Never defrost food at room temperature. Thaw food in the refrigerator, under cold running water or in the microwave. Marinate foods in the refrigerator. Divide large amounts of leftovers into small, shallow containers for quick cooling in the refrigerator. Don't pack the refrigerator. Cool air must circulate to keep food safe.
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