Health Department issues precautions for food safety

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – State health officials are urging people who live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, who may have been impacted by Hurricane Nate, to take special care when preparing food.

If you or your family is without power because of Nate, it’s important to ensure food safety. State officials say any perishable food that has been left out a room temperature for two hours or more should be discarded.

Here are some safe food tips:

  • A full cooler will maintain its cold temperature longer than one that is partially filled, so it is important to pack plenty of extra ice or freezer packs to ensure a constant cold temperature. If available, 25 pounds of dry ice will keep a 10-cubic-foot freezer below freezing for 3-4 days. Use care when handling dry ice, and wear dry, heavy gloves to avoid injury.
  • Thawed food can usually be eaten if it is still “refrigerator cold,” or re-frozen if it still contains ice crystals.
  • Eggs and other foods need to be stored at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or slightly below. Do not eat foods that may have spoiled.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands before preparing or eating food, after using the bathroom or changing a diaper, after handling uncooked food, after playing with a pet, after handling garbage, after tending to someone who is sick or injured, after blowing your nose, and after coughing or sneezing.
  • Fight “cross-contamination,” the transfer of harmful bacteria to food from other foods, cutting boards or utensils. Never place any type of food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry or seafood.
  • When grilling foods, preheat the coals on your grill for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the coals are lightly coated with ash. Use a meat thermometer to ensure that food reaches a safe internal temperature.
  • Hamburgers and ground poultry should be cooked to 160o F.
  • Poultry parts: 170° F.
  • Roasts, steaks and other large cuts of beef: 145° F. (rare) and 160o F (medium).
  • Fish – should be cooked until the meat is opaque and flakes easily.
  • Remember your pets! Use sanitized food and water bowls for your pets and make sure that they do not drink from flood-contaminated surfaces.

For more information about hurricane preparedness and safety, you can call the MSDH at 866.458.4948 or visit www.HealthyMS.com.

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