PHILIPSBURG–The Collective Prevention Service (CPS), as a public health agency, is advising the public to pay attention to proper food handling procedures when preparing meals.
CPS said the department had received reports of four cases of fish poisoning September 5 and 7.
“As with all reportable diseases, CPS surveillance nurses conduct case follow-up to identify the possible source(s) of exposure,” CPS said on Thursday. During the investigation, it came to light that the purchasing, storage, and preparation of the seafood played a major role in the source of food poisoning.
“CPS would like to remind persons when purchasing fish, or any type of sea food, that it is important to handle the products safely to reduce the risk of foodborne illness often called food poisoning,” said the department.
CPS further listed several safe-handling tips for buying, preparing, and storing fish. Persons are advised to only purchase fish that is refrigerated or displayed on a thick bed of fresh ice (preferably in a case or under some type of cover).
The fish colour can be affected by several factors, including diet, environment, and treatment with a colour fixative such as carbon monoxide or other packaging processes. Colour alone is not an indicator of freshness.
Fish should smell fresh and mild, not fishy, sour or ammonia-like; a fish’s eyes should be clean and shiny; whole fish should have firm flesh and red gills with no odour.
Fish can spoil during transport if it is left at warm temperatures for too long before cooking.
CPS noted that it is important to store fish properly – on ice or in the refrigerator or freezer soon after buying it.
If seafood will be used within two days after purchase, store it in a clean refrigerator at a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit (F) or below. Wrap it tightly in plastic, foil or moisture-proof paper and store it in the freezer.
When preparing fresh or thawed seafood, avoid cross-contamination by preventing bacteria from fish spreading to ready-to-eat foods. To prevent cross contamination, keep fish separate from raw seafood by dividers.
Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water after handling any raw food.
Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and countertops with soap and hot water between the preparation of raw foods such as seafood and the preparation of cooked or ready-to-eat foods.
For added protection, kitchen sanitisers can be used on cutting boards and countertops after use, or a solution of one tablespoon of unscented liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water.
CPS said when purchasing fresh fish always walk with a cooler with cold elements or ice to keep your fish fresh, especially when you do not know how much time you will be on the road, to ensure the food you eat is safe and healthy.
Most seafood should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145F. If a food thermometer is not available, there are other ways to determine whether seafood is cooked, for example, if the flesh of the fish is clear and separates easily with a fork.
Leaving seafood or other perishable food out of the refrigerator for more than two hours or for more than one hour when temperatures are above 90F is not advised. Bacteria that can cause illness grow quickly at warm temperatures (between 40F and 140F).
CPS noted that persons with weakened immune systems, children, older adults and pregnant women are at greater risk of foodborne illness and are more likely to have a lengthier illness, undergo hospitalisation or even die.
Symptoms of foodborne illness are vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, and body ache.
“It is imperative to ensure food safety from the purchase to the point of consuming fish and/or any other food, and always practise food safety. Be conscious of what and when you eat,” CPS advised.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/cps-reports-cases-of-fish-poisoning