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Health Bulletin Summer 2010

Barbecue (BBQ) Season and Food-borne Illness

BBQ season is the perfect time for outside fun with family and friends. But warm weather also makes it easy for germs like bacteria and viruses to get into foods and make people sick.

Food-borne illness symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fever.

Protect yourself, your family, and friends from food-borne illness. Practice safe food-handling practices when preparing foods and eating.

Safe Food-Handling Tips
Safe food-handling begins with proper hand washing. Before you begin your BBQ, make sure hands and surfaces are clean. If you won't have access to running water, bring a water-filled container, soap, and paper towels to wash up. You can also use alcohol-based hand sanitizer or moist disposable towelettes to clean your hands.

Below are some safe food-handling tips:
  • Clean your produce. Wash fresh fruits and vegetables under running water before packing them in the cooler. Dry them with a clean cloth towel or paper towel.
  • Keep cold food cold. Put cold food in a cooler with ice. Cold food should be stored at 40°F or below to prevent bacteria from growing.
  • Organize drinks and food. Pack drinks in one cooler and food in another. That way, as people open and reopen the drinks cooler to get refills, the food won't be exposed to the warm weather. Keep coolers closed and try not to open the coolers often. This helps to keep the drinks and food cold longer.
  • Don't spread germs from one food to another. Be sure to keep raw meats separate from cooked meats and other food. Don't put cooked meat onto plates that held food when it was raw.
  • Cook meat well! Fully cooking meat will kill bacteria. Use a thermometer to check if food has reached a safe internal temperature. For example, burgers should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160o F. Eggs should be cooked until the yolk is firm.

Read Your Menu!

Nutrition labels can help you make healthier food choices! Studies show that most people don't know the nutrition information of the food they eat and the beverages they drink.

Philadelphia's new Menu Labeling Law requires that chain restaurants and retail food places with more than 15 locations nationwide must post nutritional information for the food and drinks they sell. The law applies to both menus and menu boards (like those in fast food restaurants). The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends the following:

Calories per day
14 – 18 year old female 14 – 18 year old male Adult female Adult male
1,800 2,200 2,000 2,500

For more information about Philadelphia's Menu Labeling Law call 215-685-5623.

For more information about nutrition, please visit

Dog Bite Prevention

Dog bites are a public health problem that can be prevented. Follow these tips to help prevent dog bites:

  • Be careful around strange dogs. Dogs that do not know you may see you as a threat.
  • Never turn your back to a dog and run away. The dog will chase you!
  • Do not pet a dog... without letting him see and sniff you first!
  • Do not bother a busy dog! Especially a dog who is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a bacterial disease. People get Lyme disease when they are bitten by ticks carrying the bacteria. Ticks that carry Lyme disease are very small and can be hard to see.

Symptoms include: fever, headache, feeling tired and skin rash. Most people can be treated with a few weeks of antibiotics. If not treated, the infection can spread to the joints, heart and nervous system.

Before you head out to enjoy the warm weather, protect yourself against Lyme disease:

  • Avoid areas that are infested with ticks (wooded areas, tall grass fields).
  • Wear light-colored clothing so that ticks can be spotted more easily and removed before becoming attached.
  • If you will be walking in tick-infested areas, wear long-sleeved shirts, and tuck your pants into socks. Also wear high rubber boots (since ticks are usually located close to the ground).
  • Put insect repellents containing DEET to clothes and exposed skin.
  • Remove any attached ticks as soon as possible.
  • Perform tick checks after returning from outdoors.