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JoAnne Green, Founder/Editor,/Publisher
JoAnne Green














Keep Food in the Safety Zone During the Super Bowl

Whether you’re grilling in the backyard or at a tailgate party, UT Southwestern Medical Center toxicologists say you can avoid food poisoning during this Super Bowl with a few cautionary steps.

Just because it’s cold outside, doesn’t mean food won’t spoil or become contaminated. “Make sure your guests carry home fond memories instead of stomach aches or worse with sound food handling and preparation practices,” says Dr. Kurt Kleinschmidt, a toxicologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

chicken wings, wraps, salad

Preparation

  • Refrigerate or freeze perishable foods as soon as you get them home from the store.

  • If you're not going to use meats within a couple of days, freeze them. Once you've thawed meat, cook it. Don't re-freeze thawed meat.

  • Pack plenty of ice in coolers to store raw or leftover foods at tailgate parties.

  • Keep meats for grilling cold until you put them on the grill.

Handling

  • Before handling food, always wash your hands thoroughly in warm, soapy water or use hand sanitizer.

  • Don't leave food standing for long periods of time. A general rule of thumb is not to leave foods out for more than one hour.

  • Eat hot foods as soon as they're cooked or while they're still hot.

  • Remove cold foods from the refrigerator just before serving and put them away quickly.

  • Wash hands, surfaces, and utensils that come in contact with raw meats. Use different dishes and utensils with cooked meats and raw meats.

Cooking

  • Cook foods at recommended temperatures to kill bacteria. Use a meat thermometer to be sure the food is thoroughly cooked. That's especially important for ground beef. When grilling, cook hamburgers until they're no longer pink inside, or until juices run clear.

  • Generally, grilled meats should be cooked to at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit and poultry to at least 160 degrees. Pork should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 155 degrees in order to destroy the parasite that causes trichinosis. This disease causes abdominal pain, diarrhea, muscle soreness, fever and swelling around the eyes. If you're grilling pork ribs, you don't want the meat to be red near the bone.

Be on the defensive for acetaminophen buildup

When seeking quick pain relief, people should not overuse acetaminophen as a cure-all, UT Southwestern Medical Center liver disease experts warn.

From Super Bowl parties to flu-season aches, many people reach for acetaminophen in its many forms – headache relief, sleep aids, cold and flu remedies, even some prescription painkillers – not realizing how quickly the medication can add up.

"It is easy to lose track of how much combined acetaminophen you're consuming when taking combinations of medicines, particularly for different ailments such as arthritis and perhaps a cold,” says Dr. William Lee, Director of the Clinical Center for Liver Diseases at UT Southwestern. Failing to identify the different names for acetaminophen, such as 'APAP' or just not reading labels can be deadly, since acetaminophen is present in many types of pain pills, both prescription and over the counter, as well as in cold and flu medications.

Too much acetaminophen in the system at one time or over an extended period can cause serious liver damage, liver failure and even death. More than 200 people in the U.S. die annually of accidental acetaminophen poisoning and another 15,000 end up in the emergency rooms from unknowingly taking too much. The average adult should avoid more than 3-4,000 milligrams of acetaminophen per day, the equivalent of eight extra-strength tablets, and no more than 2,000 mg to 3,000 mg for those with liver problems like hepatitis or for those who drink regularly. Alcohol consumption, Dr. Lee warns, makes acetaminophen more toxic while depleting other substances that protect against liver damage.

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