Increase in Foodborne Illnesses in our Community

The number of foodborne illnesses has increased in our area, especially over the past month, according to the Montgomery Health Department, which also serves Hopewell and Pennington Boroughs.

Foodborne illnesses like E. coli, Salmonella, Giardiasis, and Campylobacter can pose serious health risks and may take several weeks to treat. Spoiled food can make a person sick any day of the year, but the holiday season and family gatherings make the problem more common.

“During the holidays, we see an increase in food related illnesses,” said Stephanie Carey, Montgomery Township Health Officer. “It can be hard to cook a turkey thoroughly. Also, trays of food may sit out at parties for a long time. Make sure to keep hot food hot and cold food cold. Share the joy, not the germs!”

“When we see increased incidences of foodborne illnesses, we investigate each case separately, looking for trends that may link two or more cases together,” said Brianna Retsis, Montgomery Township’s Public Health Nurse. “However, we often find that the holiday season is popular for foodborne-related illnesses due to things like handling uncooked meat, or eating raw cookie dough” “Health Education is key to preventing the spread of these illnesses that are mostly spread by the oral-fecal route. Simple measures, such as proper handwashing, and food-handling techniques can prevent foodborne illness, or food poisoning.”

Signs and Symptoms of Foodborne Illness include:

§  Abdominal Cramps §  Weight Loss
§  Nausea/Vomiting §  Weakness/Fatigue
§  Severe (often bloody) Diarrhea §  Loss of Appetite
§  Fever §  Headache


The Health Department encourages four simple food safety tips:

  1. Wash hands and surfaces often. Unwashed hands are a prime cause of foodborne illness. Hands should be washed with warm, soapy water before and after handling food.
  2. Don’t cross-contaminate. Separate raw meats and uncooked food from ready-to-eat food.
  3. Cook to proper temperatures. Cooking at high enough temperatures will kill harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness.
  4. Refrigerate promptly. Food left out of refrigeration for more than two hours may not be safe to eat.

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This message was submitted to MercerMe by the Montgomery Health Department. For questions or more information, please contact the Montgomery Township Health Department at (908) 359-8211

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