Guam - There are over 48 million foodborne illnesses in the United States every year and the source is improper food handling. But it can be avoided.
There are over 1,000 gastroenteritis cases each year on Guam but it doesn't have to be that way as cracking the code to food safety is as easy as educating yourself on the new Food Safety Code which will become effective in November. Public Health director James Gillan said, "This annual event where we get the community involved in learning about food safety we get our young people doing some great things we have a great exhibition sometime next month that involves school children."
Educating our youth is of extreme importance if you may recall in May of 2011 and outbreak at five public schools involving over 350 elementary school children. "Young people are learning about food safety and that a real key because it won't take much to have a real bad event happen real quickly," he explained.
While the Food Safety Code is geared towards those in retail food establishments such as restaurants, bakeries and grocery stores it involves five key aspects for safe food handling. Environmental public officer Evan Lom told KUAM News, "You want to have your managers to have a certain knowledge of food safety another focus is on handling safety on reducing hand contact with foods you want to learn when to exclude and restrict employees if they are exhibiting symptoms things like that."
Other key aspects such as remembering to wash your hands, properly storing food at the right temperatures and not leaving food out for long periods of time can reduce your chances of catching a foodborne illness. And in order to increase awareness the Department of Public Health has several events lined up for the month of September. These events include USFDA training, Guam Food Code training and a food safety fair. While the trainings will be geared towards those in the food industry, the food safety fair will have demonstrations on food safety for the public. It will be held on September 20 at the Micronesia Mall from 10am to 2pm. So make sure to mark your calendars and educate yourself so you can crack the code to food safety and protect yourself and your family from foodborne illnesses.