Food Safety Facts

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serious food safetyAs we start National Food Safety Month, please don’t forget that we have learned through our recent gastrointestinal illness outbreak, that it can affect you and someone you know.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 90% of all illnesses are due to known pathogens: Salmonella, Norovirus, Campylobacter, Toxoplasma, E. coli O157:H7, Listeria and Clostridium Perfringens. Looking at the symptoms of most of these illnesses, many people misdiagnose it as a 24 hour stomach flu. So if you are experiencing any symptoms, it is best to get checked out by your healthcare provider.

Check out some of our factsheets on the foodborne illnesses most common.

Most foodborne illness is caused when food is contaminated with bacteria or viruses. When conditions are right, bacteria can grow and multiply. “While it’s easy to blame food service establishments for foodborne illness, millions of people become ill each year as a result of handling food at home improperly,” said Jennifer Grable, Family & Consumer Sciences (FCS) Extension Agent. Most foodborne illness is caused by time-temperature abuse, cross contamination, and poor personal hygiene. You can prevent illness at home by keeping hot foods hot (140 degree or more), keeping food cold (40 degrees or lower) reheating leftovers to 165 degrees, cleaning and sanitizing food contact surfaces, and washing your hands frequently.

With the flu season coming up, it is not surprising that you find hand sanitizer everywhere these days. However, research has shown that hand sanitizer is not as effective as handwashing with soap and water. In fact, hand sanitizer has been found to be ineffective against Norovirus. A good message to remember is that hand sanitizer is better than nothing if you do not have access to handwashing facilities, but washing your hands is the best way to prevent the spread of germs. More information about food safety and tips for your family, church and friends, contact the Family & Consumer Sciences (FCS) Extension Agent, Jennifer Grable at 336-599-1195 (Person) or 919-603-1350 (Granville) or For more information about our programs, like our Facebook website at