ILOILO CITY, Dec. 25 (PIA6) – The Department of Health 6 has recorded a total of 37 events of food-borne illnesses in Western Visayas from January to November, 2016.
Out of the 37 events, Dr. Elvie Villalobos, DOH 6 Head for Infectious Disease Cluster, said a total of 666 persons were affected and four died.
The cause of death of the four persons was due to ingestion of food contaminated by marine toxins – one ate shellfish and the three others ate puffer fish or locally known as “butete”. All these incidents happened in Negros Occidental.
Villalobos said other causes of foodborne intoxication are certain bacteria and poisonous chemicals.
To avoid food borne illnesses especially this holiday season when foods abound, he reminded the public to observe the five keys to safer food recommended by the World Health Organization. These tips include keep clean, separate raw from cooked food, cook food thoroughly, keep food at safe temperatures and use safe water and raw materials.
Villalobos said in keeping food clean, one must wash their hands before handling food and often during food preparation; wash their hands after going to the toilet; wash and sanitize all surfaces and equipment used for food preparation; and protect kitchen areas and food from insects, pests and other animals.
It is also important to separate raw meat, poultry and seafood from other foods by using separate equipment and utensils such as knives and cutting boards for handling raw foods and storing food in containers to avoid contact between raw and prepared foods.
Villalobos said cook food thoroughly, especially meat, poultry, eggs and seafood. Also, bring foods like soups and stews to boiling point to ensure that micro-organism are killed and reheat cooked food thoroughly. For meat and poultry, make sure juices are clear, not pink.
To keep food at safe temperatures, do not leave cooked food at room temperature for more than 2 hours; refrigerate promptly all cooked and perishable food (preferably below 5°C); keep cooked food piping hot (more than 60°C) prior to serving; do not store food too long in the refrigerator; and do not thaw frozen food at room temperature.
Villalobos said it is important that water and raw materials are safe. He advised those especially in the rural areas who are doubtful of the source of their water like deep well or shallow well to boil the water three minutes before they drink or use.
He further advised to select fresh and wholesome foods; choose foods processed for safety such as pasteurized milk; wash fruits and vegetables, especially if eaten raw; and do not use food beyond its expiry date. (JSC/laf/PIA6 Iloilo)