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With Updated Information, “You Can Prevent Foodborne Illness”

PULLMAN, Wash. — Each year there are an estimated 76 million cases of foodborne illness in the United States. They result in 5,000 deaths and 75,000 hospitalizations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Many of these illnesses can be avoided by following a few basic food safety guidelines outlined in a newly updated 20-page bulletin available through Washington State University Cooperative Extension.It is designed to help consumers, as well as food professionals,understand the causes and consequences of foodborne illnesses,and act to reduce the risks.

The bulletin, “You can prevent foodborne illness, “is a collaborative project of Washington State University, the University of Idaho and Oregon State University.

According to WSU food specialist Val Hillers, the bulletin is unique in that it reflects the opinion of experts from around the nation as to what is the most important information to provide the public about safe food handling and preparation.

“It’s more detailed than our previous publications, and it’s more extensive than any I’ve seen in the country,” Hillers said. “It’s designed primarily for interested consumers but will also be useful for food safety professionals and educators.”

When it comes to preventing foodborne illnesses, following five basic food safety guidelines is still the best approach:Practice good personal hygiene, cook foods adequately, avoid cross-contamination with uncooked meats, keep foods at safe temperatures and avoid foods from unsafe sources.

“The single most important thing you can do to prevent foodborne illness is to wash your hands frequently, just like your mother told you,” Hillers said.

The bulletin provides practical and comprehensive information on how to put the five food safety guidelines to use and which foods present the most risk. It also details the most common known contaminants that are carried by food and how they get into food. It also has information on populations that are at highest risk from foodborne pathogens and the foods they should avoid.

Copies of “You can prevent foodborne illness” (BulletinPNW0250) can be ordered through the WSU Cooperative Extension Bulletins office for $1.00, plus $1.00 for shipping. To order, call toll-free at 1-800-723-1763 and request BulletinPNW0250, or order on-line by visiting http://pubs.wsu.edu. An abbreviated version of the information contained in the bulletin also can be viewed at the recently updated Web site http://www.foodsafety.wsu.edu.

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