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Avoiding Food Poisoning During the Holidays

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than 48 million cases of food poisoning are reported in the U.S. annually. Of those, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die. Food safety is therefore critical as the holidays approach when many of us attend meals with family and friends.

The top five pathogens contributing to domestically acquired food poisoning are listed in order of frequency:

  • Norovirus – 5.4 million estimated cases.

  • Salmonella (non-typhoidal) – 1 million estimated cases.

  • Clostridium perfringens – 965,958 estimated cases.

  • Campylobacter ssp – 845,024 estimated cases

  • Staph aureus – 241,148 estimated cases.

Here are some food safety tips to avoid the dreaded holiday diarrhea (and, worst, food poisoning!). Adhere to strict hand washing with soap and water at these key times:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food (especially raw meat, raw eggs, and unwashed vegetables).

  • Before and after caring for sick individuals.

  • Before drinking and eating.

  • Before and after treating a wound.

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