Health department offers food safety tips

Power outages create ideal conditions for foodborne illnesses

The Will County Health Department is urging area residents and businesses to be mindful of the potential for foodborne illnesses if power is lost.

Dairy, meat, poultry, fish and eggs should be cooled to temperatures of 41 degrees or lower, according to a release from the department. Products found with temperatures above 41 degrees after a power outage occurs should be discarded.

Additionally, the department warned residents against tasting food to determine its safety. When in doubt, throw food out.

A freezer that is half full will hold food safely for up to 24 hours, and a full freezer will hold food safely for up to 48 hours, the department added. Residents who aren’t sure if food is cold enough to save can also take its temperature with a food thermometer.

In the event of a power outage, refrigerator and freezer doors should be closed as much as possible, and food thermometers should be placed in refrigerators and freezers.

Health department officials also said residents should have coolers and ice on hand.

“As always, remember that frequent hand washing with soap and warm water is perhaps the single most important thing we can do to protect our health,” the department said.

Bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses begin to grow quickly when conditions are favorable, and some types of bacteria produce toxins that cannot be destroyed by cooking.

For more power outage tips, visit redcross.org/prepare/disaster/power-outage.

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