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Washing your hands every day keeps indigestion away

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PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - Families passing through the line at the Peterson Chapel's fair food event loaded up with hot dogs and french fries, November 2015. Throughout the year, many people come together for potlucks, picnics, and barbecues, which have more potential for spreading bacteria. This can be prevented by washing hands after using the restroom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Before going to or hosting your next food gathering, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and 21st Medical Group public health recommend following several prevention tips to keep food clean and safe, and to avoid getting sick from any bacteria or cross contamination.

“One of the biggest things in prevention is hand hygiene,” said Maj. Ryan Button, 21 MDG public health flight commander. “With summer coming to a close, flu season is starting to rear its head. The best thing to do for prevention is wash your hands.”

As summer ends, groups of people may get together for events with shared food, which have more potential for cross-contamination, said Master Sgt. Alex Luke, 21 MDG public health flight chief.

Holding soapy hands under cold water for 20 seconds could save you from a few nights of pain, according to the CDC. But if you do pick up any bacteria, you could catch illnesses like the flu, food poisoning, or suffer from symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, vomiting or a fever.

“Yes, flu season is airborne, but you’re going to be touching a lot of things that could be infected, so washing your hands is a big deal,” Button said. “Gastrointestinal bugs are going to spread most the time because someone touched something with their hands they didn’t wash after using the bathroom. Washing your hands is super easy to do.”

Other ways the CDC says you can improve food safety include:

• Cooking poultry, ground beef and eggs thoroughly (Do not eat or drink foods containing raw eggs, or raw (unpasteurized) milk
• Send back undercooked meat, poultry or eggs in a restaurant
• Wash hands, kitchen surfaces and utensils with soap and water immediately after being in contact with raw meat/poultry
• Carefully prepare food for infants, elderly and immunocompromised people
• Wash hands with soap after touching a reptile, bird, baby chicks or pet feces
• Avoid direct or indirect contact between reptiles (turtles, iguanas, lizards, snakes) and infants/immunocompromised people
• Don’t work with raw poultry/meat and infants at the same time

21 MDG public health suggests using the CDC website as a resource for food safety, and to contact public health on base with any questions or concerns at 719-556-2273.

Enjoy picnics and Labor Day cookouts safely — stay healthy.


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