FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Families across the Central Valley are getting ready to celebrate together a variety of events including Thanksgiving and the 2022 World Cup – but the FDA says food poisoning could put an end to those well-made plans.

During a press conference hosted by the Fresno County Health Department, Steven Wiener of the FDA talked about the dangers of food poisoning and what you can do to avoid it. The FDA estimates that there are about 48 million cases annually, about 1 in 6 Americans each year. This results in an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.

Food poisoning symptoms can develop in hours or even days. The most common symptoms are upset stomach, nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. The FDA recommends drinking a lot of fluids to prevent dehydration. If you have a high fever above 102° F, bloody diarrhea, frequent vomiting, or signs of dehydration, they also recommend seeing a doctor. It can lead to long-term effects like chronic arthritis, brain and nerve damage, and kidney failure.

To avoid food poisoning, the FDA has some simple steps that can help people prevent getting disease-causing bacteria. They spread it out into four simple steps: clean, separate, cook, and chill.

Clean

Wash your hands with warm water for at least 20 seconds constantly. Especially after using the bathroom and handling pets. Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with hot and soapy water. The FDA advises using paper towels on kitchen surfaces. If you use cloth towels, wash them in the hot cycle constantly. Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running water and clean lids before opening.

Separate

The FDA says it’s important to separate raw meats from other foods. Not just on your cutting board but also in your grocery cart, grocery bags, and refrigerator. Use separate cutting boards for fresh produce and raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held uncooked meat or eggs unless it has been washed.

Cook

Cook all foods to the appropriate temperatures. The FDA advises always using a food thermometer as it is the only way to ensure the safety of the food for all cooking methods. Color and texture are unreliable indicators. Food must be cooked to the right temperature in order to kill any harmful bacteria.

When cooking in a microwave oven, cover food, stir, and rotate for even cooking. If there is no turntable, rotate the dish by hand once or twice during cooking. Always allow standing time which completes the cooking before checking the internal temperature. Also make sure to bring sauces, soups, and gravy to a boil when reheating.

Chill

Refrigerate food promptly. Make sure your refrigerator thermometer is 40° F or below and the freezer temperature is 0° F or below. Perishables should be refrigerated or frozen within two hours of cooking or purchasing. Refrigerate within one hour if temperatures outside are above 90°F.

Never defrost food at room temperature, such as on a countertop. There are three ways to safely defrost food, in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. Food thawed in cold water or the microwave should be cooked immediately. Large amounts of food should be divided into smaller shallow containers for quicker cooling.