September is National Food Safety Education Month

It’s a great time to freshen up on food safety practices and educate yourself about preventing food poisoning.

Each year, about 1 in 6 Americans get a foodborne illness. While only a small percentage of these illnesses are the result of identified foodborne outbreaks (two or more similar illnesses result from eating the same food), most could be avoided with increased attention to safe food handling.

Consumers play an important role in food safety and preventing food poisoning. When preparing and handling food, keep these four steps in mind to help prevent foodborne illness:

  • Clean: Wash your hands, utensils, and surfaces often when you cook
  • Separate: Raw meat, chicken, turkey, seafood, and eggs can spread germs. Separate them from cooked food and fresh produce.
  • Cook: Use a food thermometer to make sure food is cooked to an internal temperature that kills germs.
  • Chill: Refrigerate perishable foods: (food likely to spoil or go bad quickly) and leftovers within 2 hours, or within 1 hour if the food is exposed to temperatures above 90°F (like might happen in a hot car or at a summer picnic)

 

While anyone can get sick from food poisoning, these tips are particularly important for those who are more likely to respond with a serious illness, including:

  • Adults 65 or older
  • Children younger than 5
  • People with weakened immune systems
  • Pregnant people

The Health Department also has an important role in preventing illness from food. Its Food Safety Program permits and inspects approximately 8,500 permanent food operations across the county. These include restaurants, retail markets, food processing facilities, caterers, warehouses, mobile vendors, festivals, farmers markets, school cafeterias and nursing homes.

Food Safety protects public health by ensuring that food operations are storing, handling, and preparing food safely. This is done through:

  • Conducting inspections
  • Investigating complaints
  • Responding to emergency conditions
  • Offering training and testing to become a Certified Food Protection Manager
  • Providing plan review services to people wanting to open a food facility
  • Responding to questions

 

For more information about food safety and preventing foodborne illnesses, sign up for our November Live Well Speaker Series on Tuesday, November 15 from 10-11 a.m. on Microsoft Teams.

A member of the ACHD Food Safety Program will present tips for the holidays and provide a sneak peak of the Allegheny County’s Food Safety Rules and Regulations (Article III) updates.  Sign up for the November Speaker Series.

About ACHD

Created in 1957, the Allegheny County Health Department is charged with protecting the environmental and public health of 1.2 million County residents through Pennsylvania Act 315 , the Local Health Administration Law.