It is no surprise that your local K-State Extension family and consumer sciences agent is very excited to talk about September being food safety month. Food safety is important to every single person in your life because we all eat food. Food safety may concern you too, or maybe it makes you roll your eyes in annoyance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state food safety affects an estimated 1 in 6 Americans. Approximately 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die from eating contaminated food. Foodborne illness does not just mean vomiting or diarrhea.

Anyone can get sick from a foodborne illness (also called food poisoning). But some groups of people are more likely to get sick and to have a more serious illness. These groups are:

- Children younger than 5

- Adults 65-over

- People with health problems or who take medicines that lower the body’s ability to fight germs and sickness

- Pregnant women

There are things you can do to protect yourself and your family. As you prepare and handle food, follow these four steps:

- Clean: Wash your hands, utensils and surfaces often when you cook.

- Separate: Raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs can spread germs. Separate them from cooked food and fresh produce.

- Cook: Use a food thermometer to make sure foods are cooked to an internal temperature that kills germs.

- Chill: Refrigerate perishable foods and leftovers within two hours. Chill within one hour if it’s above 90 degrees.

Join us in sharing information about the four steps to food safety. Let’s make sure everyone knows how to protect themselves and their loved ones from food poisoning. Remember, the steps are simple.

For more information on this topic or others, contact the K-State Research and Extension – Leavenworth County office at 913-364-5700, visit us at 613 Holiday Plaza in Lansing or contact me directly at chelsim@ksu.edu

Chelsi Myer is a family and consumer sciences agent at K-State Research and Extension – Leavenworth County.