CHICAGO — Food poisoning causes 48 million illnesses in the U.S. each year, and most recently more than 300 Midwesterners were sickened by an outbreak of cyclospora, a foodborne pathogen.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages everyone to reduce their risk with simple safety steps from www.homefoodsafety.org and by downloading the free Is My Food Safe? mobile app.
“While there are no guarantees in life, you can drastically reduce your risk of food poisoning with a few simple safety steps, from washing your hands and produce to cooking meats to a safe minimum internal temperature,” said registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy Spokesperson Libby Mills.
The Academy’s award-winning homefoodsafety.org website and Is My Food Safe? mobile app are free resources provided by the Home Food Safety program — a collaboration between the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and ConAgra Foods.
Since the launch of the app in August 2012, it has already been downloaded 20,000 times on Apple and Android devices.
“You can’t rely upon color, taste or smell alone to determine if a food is safe to eat,” Mills said. “The Is My Food Safe? app is a great tool for identifying expired foods and safely cooking pretty much any type of meat: hamburgers, pork, chicken, game meat and even exotic meats and poultry.
“Don’t let your health and the health of your guests be determined by guesswork in food preparation and storage,” Mills said.
“This app should be your number-one companion in the kitchen, offering simple home food safety steps that can reduce your risk.”
The Is My Food Safe? app consists of the following sections:
• Is it done yet? Check the safe minimum internal cooking temperature for meats and more.
• Time to toss? Learn essential information on how long you can keep leftovers.
• Quiz: Is my kitchen safe? Test your knowledge of kitchen safety and see what grade your kitchen receives.
• Ask an expert. Find out more about food safety from registered dietitian nutritionists — the food and nutrition experts.
According to registered dietitian Barbara Ivens, senior nutrition director at ConAgra Foods, the app is especially useful for those who are more vulnerable to the effects of food poisoning.
“Certain populations may be at far greater risk of developing serious illness with long-term effects, making safe food preparation even more important for these high-risk groups or those preparing foods for them.”
Ivens said those at greater risk includes infants; young children; pregnant women and their unborn babies; older adults and those with weakened immune systems and chronic illness such as diabetes and kidney disease; those with HIV/AIDS and some cancer patients.
For more tips on reducing your risk of food poisoning while preparing foods safely in the kitchen, at the grill or even in the office, visit www.homefoodsafety.org.