Affected Foods Should Not Be Used or Consumed in Preparation for Fourth of July Festivities
As temperatures and barbecues heat up, the DC Department of Health (DOH) reminds residents of the importance of food safety and hydration when preparing for outdoor celebrations this weekend.
The topic of food safety is even more important, as the District of Columbia begins to recover from recent power outages that affected large portions of the city. Foods that have not been properly refrigerated for more than 4 hours are at risk of making residents sick if consumed. Residents who were without power for more than 1-2 days are advised to dispose of all perishable food items located in their refrigerators during the power outage. Residents whose freezers were without power for more than 48 hours are advised to dispose of all frozen foods. When preparing for Fourth of July festivities, DOH strongly encourages residents to use fresh foods and not foods that were stored in refrigerators or freezers that were affected by the recent power outage.
At this time residents affected by the power outage are advised to do the following:
- Throw away all food in the refrigerator
- Throw away all medications that are stored in the refrigerator
- Do not use contaminated water to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, wash your hands, make ice, or make baby formula
- Clean out refrigerators
- Keep refrigerator doors closed
DC Department of Public Works Collection sites to dispose of spoiled foods:
Tuesday, July 3; 3pm-7pm
- LaSalle - Backus Elementary -501 Riggs Road, NE
- McKinley Tech – 151 T Street, NE
- Key Elementary - 5001 Dana Place, NW
- Wilson High School - 3950 Chesapeake Street, NW
- Ferebee-Hope Elementary - 3999 8th Street, SE
- Garfield Elementary - 2435 Alabama Avenue, SE
Tuesday, July 3 and Thursday, July 5; 1pm-7pm
- Ft. Totten Transfer Station, 4900 John F. McCormack, Road NE
Trucks will be positioned at each site to receive spoiled food only
Ft. Totten collection site will be closed Wednesday, July 4 for the holiday
When cooking both inside and out, it is important for residents to keep in mind that food poisoning can occur by eating food that has not been well cleaned, cooked or stored at appropriate temperatures. In addition, precaution should be taken when preparing and eating foods outside, as illness can result from bacteria and viruses that are passed from person to person, typically from improper hand washing. Symptoms of food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends the following four simple steps to ensure food safety:
- Clean – Wash your hands and any food preparation surfaces often with warm, soapy water, particularly after handling raw food and going to the restroom.
- Separate – Pack raw food in a separate cooler from any ready-to-eat food items. Always rewash plates, cutting boards, and utensils that have touched raw food before using them again for cooked food.
- Cook – Cook food at temperatures high enough to kill harmful bacteria. Poultry should be cooked until an internal temperature of at least 165ºF is reached. Ground beef hamburgers should be cooked until an internal temperature of at least 160ºF is reached.
- Chill – Keep perishable items at or below 40ºF by using ice cubes and ice packs. Leftovers should be put in a cooler as quickly as possible. Foods that should be kept cold are considered unsafe when left at 90ºF for more than one hour.
Residents should also take the necessary steps to avoid heat related illnesses. Hot temperatures can cause many medical conditions such as heat exhaustion and stroke; residents are advised to take caution and drink plenty of fluids when outdoors.
DOH Tips for Staying Healthy and Cool in the Heat:
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol, and large amounts of sugar
- Wear clothing that is loose-fitting, light colored and breathable, such as cotton
- Dress infants and children in cool, loose clothing and shade their heads and faces with hats or an umbrella
- Limit sun exposure during mid-day hours and in places of potential severe exposure such as beaches
- Wear sunscreen with 30 SPF or higher
- Schedule outdoor activities carefully
- Do not leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car
- Provide plenty of fresh water for your pets, and leave the water in a shady area
- If you do not have access to a cool-temperature location, visit the District recreation center, library, or senior center closest to you
For more information on safe outdoor food practices, visit the USDA Barbecue Food Safety page: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Barbecue_Food_Safety.