Morgan Co. Health Dept official talks summer food safety

By Gary Scott on June 4, 2018 at 6:24am

June has arrived and so too has the warmth and humidity.

Summers in west central Illinois are typically accompanied by thick, humid air due to the moisture that accumulates during the normally rainy spring. And with warmer temperatures, there inevitably comes the desire for area residents to spend their time outdoors, and whether it be out at Lake Jacksonville or a backyard, outdoor activities often come with some sort of food on the grill.

As Jacksonville and the surrounding area enter into the summer, it’s important for local residents to be reminded and aware of certain tips to keep one’s food healthy and edible. Linda May of the Morgan County Health Department joined WLDS’ AM Conversation earlier this week to discuss summer food safety.

Day starts by going over some of the food products most likely to suffer from the increasing temperatures.

“Poultry, chicken…if you’re going to grill out chicken, just make sure that you bring it from the cooler or the refrigerator, go to the grill, cook it to at least 165 degrees. Then make sure, if you’re taking it back into the house, you’re putting it on a separate plate. Hamburger, same thing. We don’t want cross-contamination when you’re cooking out. Keep the poultry on one container or plate, hamburgers on another, and hot dogs on a different one, just so we don’t cross-contaminate,” Days says.

As for some basic tips on keeping food healthy during the summer, Day discusses a handful of simple practices to help avoid any food-caused illnesses.

“You want to make sure that you’re using a thermometer, and when you take the temperature of chicken, try to avoid the bone. Go into the thickest part of that meat and get that temperature and make sure it’s done before you eat it.Then a lot of times, we’ll go out and enjoy time with our families, and we kind of forget all about that grill until the next time you want to grill. So you should definitely clean the grill very thoroughly before you’re going to cook on it,” says Day

While some may not fully grasp the potential harm caused by digesting unhealthy food, Day reminds area residents of the seriousness associated with contaminated food.

“You could end up in the hospital. If you eat something that’s contaminated, or it wasn’t cooked to the correct temperature, or it sat too long when it’s 90 degrees outside, you can end up sick, you can end up vomiting or have diarrhea. You might get dehydrated and have to actually be put in the hospital to get an I-V to actually re-hydrate you,” says Day.

Hear more about summer food safety from Day by checking out our full interview at WLDS or