Blue Cross Offers Safety Tips As Food Poisoning Peaks in Summer Months
Richardson, TX. — Whether folks are enjoying a summer-time picnic, a barbeque by the pool or Labor Day potluck, they're more likely to get food poisoning now than any other time of the year. In fact, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) covered 6,720 food-borne illness claims in the state last year and the month of August saw more than any other. BCBSTX wellness experts are offering advice on how to keep food-borne illnesses off the menu.
"If you have a fruit that has a peel or a rind that you're not going to eat, you actually do have to wash it," says Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, nutrition director, Good Housekeeping Research Institute. "If you're cutting through it, you don't want to introduce bacteria into the flesh of the fruit."
"We know especially for hamburgers that one out of every four hamburgers may look cooked. It may not have any pink inside at all. But that hamburger hasn't reached a safe internal temperature of 160 degrees. So, if you eat that hamburger, you could, could possibly get sick ," said Diane Van, manager, USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline.
The advice is part of a new section on the "Be Smart. Be Well ." website that includes video clips of the experts as well as personal testimonies from victims of food-borne illnesses.
"I didn't know to stay away from soft cheese," says one victim named Erin on the site. "I didn't know that it could harbor pathogens like listeria. I ended up with flu-like symptoms and then went into pre-term labor at 33 weeks! "
In addition to the "10 Tips to Prevent Food-borne Illness " on Be Smart. Be Well., BCBSTX has also posted the following lists to its website:
- Summer BBQ Shopping List
- Safer Alternatives for Outdoor Eating
- 5 Signs of Food Poisoning
"We've made a commitment to encourage wellness throughout this community so we aren't just sharing this message with our members," said Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, chief medical officer, BCBSTX. "We're especially concerned about people heading into the Labor Day weekend and we want everyone to be as safe as possible. If someone thinks they may have been infected by a food-borne illness, they should get as much rest and water as possible. If they can't hold fluids, if symptoms are severe or persist for more than three days, they should contact their doctor or call 911."
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas – the only statewide, customer-owned health insurer in Texas – is the largest provider of health benefits in the state, working with nearly 40,000 physicians and 400 hospitals to serve 4.6 million members in all 254 counties. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas is a Division of Health Care Service Corporation (which operates Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in Texas, Illinois, Oklahoma and New Mexico), the country’s largest customer-owned health insurer and fourth largest health insurer overall. Health Care Service Corporation is a Mutual Legal Reserve Company and an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.