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EDITORIAL: Stay food-safe this Thanksgiving

by HEALTHY LIVING Siloam Springs Regional Hospital | November 21, 2022 at 8:00 p.m.

Thanksgiving. It's a time for sharing -- and maybe spreading a foodborne illness. Thankfully, a few simple precautions can help you stop tainted food from spoiling the family feast.

Foodborne illness, also known as food poisoning, is an unwelcome guest at any holiday dinner table. Which toxic organisms are most likely to cause tummy troubles this year?

Prevent foodborne illness

The following food handling practices can help you keep every dish safe to eat this Thanksgiving.

• Wash hands with soap before and after handling raw food, including fruits and vegetables.

• Separate raw foods from cooked or ready-to-eat ones. To prevent cross-contamination, use separate cutting boards and utensils to prepare raw animal products.

• Cook food thoroughly to kill disease-causing organisms. Do not eat raw shellfish, especially oysters.

• Refrigerate leftovers promptly.

• Resist the temptation to eat raw cookie dough or to allow children to lick bowls or spoons after mixing recipes containing raw eggs.

• It is not possible to tell if fish, meat or poultry is completely cooked just by looking at it. You must use a thermometer to check that it has reached a safe internal temperature. All types of poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees.

• Not sure what temperature to aim for? Visit foodsafety.gov to find proper cooking times, temperatures and procedures for a variety of foods.

Treating foodborne illness

Many cases of foodborne illness can be treated at home but some require immediate medical attention.

• Vibrio vulnificus -- Symptoms include vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea. If the infection reaches the bloodstream, symptoms include high fever, chills and a dangerous drop in blood pressure. Treatment with antibiotics is needed to prevent potentially fatal complications.

• Campylobacter -- Symptoms include abdominal pain, fever and diarrhea, which may be bloody. No special treatment is required beyond rest and drinking extra fluids as long as the diarrhea lasts. Most people recover in less than a week, although symptoms can last up to 10 days.

• Salmonella -- Symptoms include abdominal cramping, severe diarrhea and high fever. Prompt treatment with antibiotics is required to prevent the infection from spreading to the bloodstream.

The emergency room at Siloam Springs Regional Hospital is here for you and your family 24 hours a day, seven days a week -- even on holidays. To learn more about our services, visit NorthwestHealth.com today.

About Siloam Springs Regional Hospital

Siloam Springs Regional Hospital is a licensed 73-bed facility with 42 private patient rooms. It is accredited by the State of Arkansas Department of Health Services and The Joint Commission. Some services include inpatient and outpatient surgery, emergency medicine, medical, surgical and intensive care units, obstetrics, outpatient diagnostic services and inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation. With more than 50 physicians on the medical staff, Siloam Springs Regional Hospital provides compassionate, customer-focused care. SSRH is an affiliate of Northwest Health, the largest health system in Northwest Arkansas. Siloam Springs Regional Hospital is located at 603 N. Progress Ave. in Siloam Springs. For more information, visit NorthwestHealth.com.

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