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Food hygiene awareness during summer

Photo by Johnny Bugeja

Public health Gibraltar and the Environment Agency are reminding the public about the risks of getting ill during the summer season in Gibraltar, eating out more or having BBQs.

“This is important currently because we are experiencing an outbreak of salmonella infection that has resulted in a small number of people being hospitalised,” said a statement from No6 Convent Place.

“For most people food poisoning is an unpleasant but self-limiting illness but for some it can be more serious.”

“It can be typical for people to have upset tummy’s and symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting over summer. This can happen for a range of different reasons that may be related to food or swimming pool contamination.”

The statement lists a number of things that can reduce the risk of becoming ill.

Regarding egg safety it states to store eggs in the refrigerator; cook eggs until the yolk is firm; do not eat raw or undercooked eggs. Hardboiled eggs need to be cooked for at least 10 minutes. Avoid eating scrambled eggs if they are runny. Cook fried eggs until the white is set and the yolk is cooked to your liking.o Avoid eating cracked or dirty eggs and wash your hand thoroughly after preparing eggs.

Regarding BBQ’s. They state you should thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator or under cold water. It is important not to allow meat to thaw at room temperature. Ensure that meat and poultry are cooked to the correct internal temperature. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature. Do not leave cooked food at room temperature for over two hours. Discard any food that has been left at room temperature for over this period of time. Clean and sanitize the grill every time you use it.

To avoid cross contamination keep raw meat, poultry and eggs separate from other foods. Use a separate cutting board and utensils for raw meat, poultry and eggs. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before and after handling food.

he best way to store foods is in the refrigerator at 5°C or below or in the freezer at -18°C or below.

Thaw food in the refrigerator or under cold running water.

The best way to store hot food, is either in a hot box at 63°C or above, or in a chafing dish at 70°C or above.

“If you do experience symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting, please stay away from swimming pools as you could unintentionally spread an infection to other pool users,” said the statement.
“It is also important to ensure that young children who are not fully toilet trained use swim nappies.”

Dr Helen Carter, Director of Public Health said “People experiencing severe or prolonged vomiting or diarrhoea, should contact a 111 for advice.”

“Vomiting and diarrhoea can have a serious risk of dehydration in the summer especially in the very young and the elderly. The GHA or the Environment agency may contact you for further information to enable us to continue to investigate the current outbreak.”

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