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Basic food safety procedures vital this summer

After marinating overnight, the juicy steaks sizzle as they hit the red-hot grill. At the picnic tables overlooking Lake Helen, platters with raw vegetables, deviled eggs and sandwich fixings for the kids are emptying fast and the table groans under the assortment of side dishes as picnickers gather after a two-hour game of softball in the 90-degree heat. The cook deftly pours the marinade over the steaks on the platter already heaped high with grilled chicken and everyone digs in.

A typical fun and tasty summer picnic. But ignoring basic food safety procedures  hygiene and sanitation, avoiding cross-contamination of food and keeping food at proper temperatures  can have serious consequences, said Brady Roach, Public Heath Specialist supervisor, Comanche County Health Department.

Each year an estimated "48 million people get sick from a foodborne illness, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,

Due to the heat and the difficulty of preparing food outdoors foodborne illnesses do increase, according to the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA),

The outcome of this cautionary picnic is not pleasant.

Thirty minutes after eating, some of the kids and a few adults start experiencing cramps and diarrhea  some vomit. Over the next six hours, almost all of the children suffer some of those symptoms. The sandwich meats sitting out in the sun after being placed on a plate by someone who didn't wash their hands led to Staphylococcus aureus growing in the food.

About 12 hours later, one of the adults begins to have some of the same symptoms and within three days all the adults are sick. They are all diagnosed with salmonella, from the uncooked marinade which cross-contaminated the cooked steaks and chicken.

The Lawton Constitution

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