Don't let food-borne illnesses spoil your holidays - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Don't let food-borne illnesses spoil your holidays

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Before holiday meals get to the table, food can spread more than just comfort: bacteria.

That lovely dinner can be interrupted by nausea, vomiting or fever. The Centers for Disease Control say every year, one in six Americans become sick from food borne illness.

"At the same time in the back of your mind keep it safe by just good common sense practices," said Lexington Medical Center clinical nutritionist Donna Quirk.

According to Quirk, bacteria is naturally in foods, but simple mistakes in food handling and preparation can make germs grow and become harmful.

The first step: wash your hands for 20 seconds.

"As you continue to prepare your meal, whether it's you're moving from meats to fruits and veggies. In between that, wash your hands," said Quirk.

Second tip: cook food thoroughly by using a food thermometer.  Quirk said meats should be cooked to a temperature of at least165 degrees.

And once dinner is ready, don't keep it out long.

"If you can't keep your hot foods hot, or your cold foods cold," said Quirk. "They should not sit out in room temperature for more than two hours."

"We're going to a lot of parties," she said.  "People are bringing food to our house. You do need to be responsible."

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