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Health Bulletin Spring 2015
Food Safety

What are foodborne illnesses?
You can get a foodborne illness when you eat or drink something that has been contaminated by germs. Food can be contaminated at the factory or store, or by contact with germs on surfaces or unclean hands. These are some germs that can make you sick:

  • Salmonella and Campylobacter (types of bacteria)
  • Hepatitis A and Norovirus (types of viruses)
  • Cryptosporidium and Giardia (types of parasites)
Typical symptoms of foodborne illnesses can include diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. You may feel awful for up to week, but then get better with no more problems. Sometimes, though, illness can lead to hospitalization or even death. These people have the most risk for problems from foodborne illnesses:
  • Pregnant women
  • Elderly
  • People with weakened immune systems (from cancer, HIV, or other conditions)

Pregnant women, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems should consider avoiding these high-risk foods because they are more likely to cause foodborne illness:

  • Soft, unpasteurized cheeses
  • Raw milk and dairy products made with raw milk
  • Unpasteurized ciders and juices
  • Foods that have raw or undercooked eggs in them (like cookie dough, cake batters, or certain sauces like Hollandaise or Béarnaise)
  • Raw shellfish
  • Bean sprouts
  • Deli meats and hot dogs. If you eat them, you should first cook them to 165°F.

How can I prevent foodborne illnesses?
Take these steps to reduce the risk when you prepare food at home:

  • Start with clean hands! Always wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before you prepare or eat food. Do not make food for other people if you have diarrhea or vomiting. You may make other people sick!
  • Clean countertops, cutting boards, and utensils before and between each use.
  • Wash produce under clean running water before you peel, cut, or eat it.
  • Separate raw foods like meat, poultry, and eggs from cooked and ready-to-eat foods. Don’t put cooked meat on the same platter that held the raw meat. Use separate cutting boards and utensils for meat and produce.
  • Cook meat, poultry, seafood, and egg-containing dishes to proper temperatures. Use a food thermometer. Poultry should be cooked until it reaches 165° F. Ground meat should be cooked to 160°F. Whole meats should be cooked to 145° F. Allow cooked whole meats to rest for at least 3 minutes before carving and eating.
  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Refrigerate any unused food left out within 2 hours. If outside in summer heat, refrigerate unused food within 1 hour.
  • Thaw frozen meat in a refrigerator, NOT on a countertop.
Heat Emergencies in Philadelphia
  • During a heat wave, the City may declare an "Excessive Heat Warning." When this happens, the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) activates the PCA Heatline.
  • You can call the Heatline to find out how to stay cool and watch for heat stress.
  • You can talk with Heatline nurses about medical problems due to the heat.
  • They can send a mobile team to check on you. They can call 9-1-1 if needed.
  • The Heatline may be open from 8:30 AM to midnight.
During a heat wave, you can call the Heatline at (215) 765-9040.
  • The City may also activate special outreach to homebound and homeless people.
  • They may open up daytime “cooling centers” where people can go to stay cool.
  • Watch the news or call the Heatline to find out more information.
Get Healthy Philly

Get Healthy Philly works to make healthy choices easier for you and your family. Get Healthy Philly wants you to eat healthy, get exercise and stay smoke-free. These three things can lower your risk for diseases. They can also give you a longer, healthier life.

Eat Healthy

Lower the amount of salt you eat. High salt intake raises blood pressure. This can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Many Chinese take-out restaurants now offer dishes with less salt!

Eat healthy foods. Here are some examples:

  • fresh fruits and vegetables
  • bottled water (instead of soda)
  • low-sodium canned goods
  • whole-grain bread
  • low-fat milk and yogurt
Find healthy foods at corner stores and farmers’ markets throughout the city. Many farmers’ markets offer produce grown in our area. They accept many forms of payment. Most accept EBT/ACCESS cards and WIC/SENIOR FMNP vouchers. For every $5 you spend on your EBT/ACCESS card, you get a $2 Philly Food Buck coupon to use on fruits and vegetables!

Visit FoodFitPhilly to find out more about these programs.

Get Exercise

Exercise helps lower the risk of some diseases, including type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
Visit the Parks and Recreation Deaprtment:

  • Find your nearest rec center or playground.
  • Take an exercise class.
  • Just get outdoors!

Stay Smoke Free

Smoking can cause serious health problems. Quitting smoking reduces the risk of getting smoking-related diseases.

Quit smoking! Help someone else quit! Create a smoke-free home!

For helpful tips, visit SmokeFree Philly

Call the Quit Line: 1-800-QUIT-NOW or 1-800-784-8669.

Many languages are available. The PA Free Quit Line can help you with FREE medications, coaching and support to help you quit smoking. Medicaid and other insurance can pay for medication and counseling. Medicaid copays for medication can be as low as $3 or less per month! These things can double your chances for success!

To find a support group near you, call the Health Federation of Philadelphia at (215) 977-8070.

Disaster Behavioral Health

Disasters happen every day. Some examples are fires, floods, and big accidents. You will likely need help after a disaster. The stress of losing a home or loved one can be too much to handle on your own. Disaster behavioral health helps lower stress. It also helps you function after a disaster. Trained responders can talk with you and help you recover.

Pay attention to how you feel.
After a disaster, your feelings and behaviors may change. This is normal, and may last for over a month. These changes may get in the way of your daily routine. Get help if you have these signs:

  • You detach from family and friends.
  • You think about hurting yourself or others.
  • You miss work or school.
  • You sleep or eat a lot more or less than normal.

Use these coping strategies.
Good coping strategies can help you recover from a disaster. Here are some examples:

  • Get at least 7 hours of sleep.
  • Stay connected to friends and family.
  • Eat healthy foods.
  • Talk with someone you trust.
  • Watch a funny TV show or movie.
  • Read a book or magazine.
  • Keep a journal.
  • Set aside time for yourself.

Be prepared for disasters.
Be prepared! It can keep you from being a victim. You can help yourself and your family through a disaster. Keep these things in mind:

  • Children’s needs (toys, school, diapers, etc.)
  • Access and functional needs (wheelchair, glasses, charger, walker, etc.)
  • How you plan to communicate with family and friends
  • Pet needs (food, crate, leash, etc.)
Get help!
Find local behavioral health providers Learn how to make a preparedness plan Call the Disaster Distress helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or go to their website.