Yesterday I received in the mail a copy of a brochure entitled Food Safety for People with Diabetes. It came from USDA and the Food & Drug Administration.
In the United States we have one of the safest food supplies in the world. Yet we teach about food borne illness and that these infections are particularly risky for people with chronic diseases. Diabetes is one of those diseases that we refer to. Quoting from the brochure, each year 48 million people have food borne illness, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die.
The brochure details the origins and effects of eight different bacteria and one virus associated with food borne illnesses. Most of these you’ve never heard of. We teach about these in the ServSafe® classes that we hold for restaurants and other food service establishments. It also details the four basic steps to food safety – clean (wash hands and surfaces), separate (avoid cross contamination), cook (use that food thermometer) and chill (refrigerate promptly). We have used these concepts in teaching consumers for many years.
What makes this brochure different is that it repeatedly categorizes foods into high risk and low risk choices in the foods that you eat. Remember diabetes is a chronic disease that has a higher risk of consequences if a food borne illness is contracted. Eating from the higher risk category is less of an issue for healthy people with strong immune systems.
High risk choices include raw or undercooked meats, poultry, and seafood. Hot dogs and deli meats that haven’t been thoroughly reheated are also risky foods. Raw (unpasteurized) milk, soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk, like feta and brie, and recipes using raw or undercooked eggs, like raw cookie dough and homemade eggnog, are on list as well.
The brochure has a page of tear-out cards that can be carried for reference. The ‘ordering smart when eating out’ card is a reminder of the high risk foods that might be found on restaurant menus.
At the back of the brochure, I was surprised to find that there are other At-Risk Food Safety booklets available. These include booklets for older adults, pregnant women, people with cancer, HIV/AIDS, and transplants. I plan to order several of these. To obtain one of these booklets for your own use, you can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org FSIS is the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture.