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Mother and child washing hands

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – While other illnesses may be more common during the fall, foodborne illnesses are still a concern. Many activities people participate in around this time of year involve food. It is important that everyone takes necessary precautions to steer clear of foodborne illnesses.

Wash Your Hands

Bridgette Brannon, an Alabama Extension food safety and quality regional agent, said hand washing is the most effective way to kill germs and is an important step in preventing illnesses.

“Touching things with unclean hands can lead to the transfer of unwanted germs from person to person and make people sick,” Brannon said.

The following steps are important to follow when washing your hands.

  • Wet hands with warm, clean water. Turn off the water and apply soap.
  • Rub hands together with soap, making sure to lather between fingers, under nails and on the back of your hands.
  • Scrub hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • Rinse hands under warm, clean running water.
  • Dry hands using a clean towel or paper towel, also using it to turn off the faucet.

It is important for parents and caregivers to set the example for their children on how to properly wash their hands. Hand washing should be done before and after preparing food of any kind and after playing with pets or animals, coughing and sneezing.

Preparing Food

Before packing food in coolers or lunch boxes, make sure they are clean. When packing perishable food items, make sure to include at least two cold sources, such as freezer packs. This prevents harmful bacteria from multiplying rapidly. Frozen water bottles or juice boxes can be easy, at-home freezer packs. Freeze these items overnight, and use them with at least one other freezer pack. The liquid should be thawed and ready to drink by lunchtime.

When packing hot food, use an insulated container to help keep its temperature. Fill the container with boiling water, let it stand for a few minutes, empty it, and put in the hot food. The insulated container should remain closed until lunchtime to keep the food inside at 140°F or above.

When packing a lunch the night before, it is important to leave it in the refrigerator overnight. The meal will stay cold longer because it will be refrigerator temperature when it is later packed.

More Information

For more food safety tips or information, visit Alabama Extension online at www.aces.edu.

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