By Robert Preidt

SATURDAY, Aug. 12, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Foodborne illnesses sicken almost 50 million people annually in the United States, according to government statistics.

But many of those episodes could be prevented, and proper sanitation when handling food is the key, says one expert.

"If all of us washed our hands and were careful with food, it would greatly reduce the number of infections we see," said Dr. Ross Rodgers, an emergency medicine physician at Penn State Medical Center.

Rodgers offered these tips in a hospital news release:

  • Never use leftover marinade on cooked foods, and don't use utensils that have touched uncooked food to serve prepared items.
  • Use a meat thermometer to ensure that meat is cooked to a safe temperature. (That's 145 degrees Fahrenheit for beef, veal and lamb steaks, roasts or chops; 160 degrees for ground meat and meat mixtures; and 165 degrees for poultry, according to the government website Foodsafety.gov.)
  • While many people try to be careful with raw meat, seafood, poultry and eggs, disease-causing viruses and bacteria also can be present on produce and other types of food. Always wash produce and leafy greens.

When eating out, try to assess the cleanliness of a restaurant.

"If the place seems clean and tidy, they probably follow good practices with their food. If it looks a bit shady, I would move to another place," Rodgers said.

If possible, check the restaurant's health inspection information.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on food safety.

Start by washing your hands and then prepare food carefully, emergency room doctor advises.

SOURCE: Penn State, news release, July 2017; Foodsafety.gov

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