PA Shares Food Safety Tips to Help Avoid Foodborne Illnesses 

As Pennsylvanians enjoy outdoor family cookouts and picnics throughout the summer, the Health Department wants to make sure Pennsylvanians take the proper steps to prepare food safely and to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

“It is important to wash your hands properly before handling food to protect yourself from dangerous foodborne illnesses,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “It is also essential that foods are cooked and stored at the appropriate temperatures. In addition to the health risk of foodborne illness, Pennsylvanians still need to be aware of the ongoing threat of COVID-19.”

Pennsylvanians are encouraged to continue to practice social distancing and other preventative measures, such as washing your hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes, cleaning surfaces frequently, wearing a mask and staying home if you are sick to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“Although we have the majority of the state now in the green phase of reopening, it is essential that we remain cautious and continue to take necessary precautions to protect against COVID-19, even while celebrating a holiday,” Dr. Rachel Levine said. “We all have a responsibility to help protect ourselves, our loved ones and others.”

One in six Americans gets a foodborne illness or food poisoning through contaminated foods or beverages. The Department of Health recommends the following tips to prevent foodborne illnesses:

  • Use a food thermometer to make sure food is thoroughly cooked to kill dangerous bacteria, particularly when grilling raw meat;
  • Never cross-contaminate one food with another. Always keep foods separated, especially raw and cooked meats;
  • Always refrigerate leftover food if it won’t be eaten within two hours;
    • If the temperature is above 90 degrees, food should not sit out for more than one hour;
  • Thoroughly clean fruits and vegetables by rinsing them under running water to remove all visible dirt;
  • Remove and throw away the outermost leaves of lettuce or cabbage;
  • Always wash your hands with soap and warm water before preparing or handling food;
  • Do not thaw foods at room temperature (such as on the counter) because bacteria can multiply at these temperatures. Instead, thaw foods in the refrigerator or in the microwave immediately before cooking;
  • Never prepare or touch food for others if you are sick;
  • Never change a baby’s diaper while preparing food; and
  • Report any suspected foodborne disease outbreaks immediately to a healthcare provider.
  • Common symptoms of foodborne illnesses are diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramps, and vomiting.