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MU Health Care doctor offers food safety tips for summer cookouts

MU Health Care doctors advised measures to take when grilling outside this summer. (MU Health Care)

It’s the perfect time of year to fire up the grill, but the summer months are also when doctors see more cases of food-borne illness.

Tara Flynn, MD, with MU Health Care’s Mizzou Urgent Care said she is already seeing an increase in cases, which is typical in June, July and August.

She urges families to focus on proper cleaning, separating, cooking and chilling to avoid food-borne illness this summer.

“We want hand washing, and we want to clean before we prepare – surfaces, such as cutting boards, and areas where we prepare – especially after touching different things,” said Flynn.

Proper separation, Flynn said, involves keeping cooked and uncooked foods away from each other. When cooking, she advises using a meat thermometer to make sure food is cooked to the appropriate temperature. After food is served, don’t forget about chilling and proper storage.

“That’s one of the reasons we see food poisoning more now – because it’s so hot out,” said Flynn. “You want to make sure within two hours of preparing something that it is put away, and you want to make sure that your refrigerators are the proper temperature.”

Flynn said food-borne illness often includes an abrupt onset of symptoms, such as nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever. While most people can weather the illness without seeking medical attention, others, such as the very young or the elderly, may need to see a physician.

“You also want to think about conditions like pregnancy or other health conditions that may put you at risk for dehydration, or your immune system not being able to respond,” said Flynn.

For more information on Mizzou Urgent Care, as well as holiday hours, visit MUHealth.org.

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