National Food Safety Month: Keep viruses from making you sick

Good personal hygiene, proper handwashing and cleaning food surfaces are great ways to reduce the spread of viruses when handling and preparing food.

September is National Food Safety Month, a time to think about the places you eat at or where you prepare food. Whether you prepare food for you family or for a place of business, it is always important to wash your hands. Handwashing should be done in a sink where the water gets pretty warm with the combination of soap and a 26-to-30-second routine of vigorous rubbing to reduce viruses or bacteria.

When it comes to food, viruses are the leading cause of people getting sick after consumption. Hepatitis A and norovirus are the biggest causes of foodborne illnesses in the United States. Viruses cannot be destroyed by cooking. Great personal hygiene and routine cleaning in and around food handling areas and surfaces will reduce the chance of spreading a virus. Washing your fruits and vegetables in a 50 parts per million (ppm) solution for 30 seconds is helpful as well.

These viruses are carried by animals and humans and can survive in heat and cold conditions. They can be contracted by fecal-oral routes, vomit particles, and through food from someone improperly washing their hands.

A few helpful hints on viruses:

  • They do not grow in food.
  • They need a living host to grow.
  • They cannot be destroyed by cooking.
  • Handwashing is important to prevent the spread of viruses.
  • Norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne illnesses.

A good personal hygiene program, proper handwashing and proper cleaning of food surfaces are great ways to reduce the spread of viruses when handling and preparing food. For more tips and resources on food safety for youth and adults, visit the National Food Safety Education Month webpage from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Michigan State University Extension supports healthy living and eating. Since health is a part of 4-H, the healthy youth programs in MSU Extension help to foster healthy living for youth and adults.

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