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The CDC estimates approximately 48 million people get sick from food poisoning each year. About 128,000 of those cases result in, hospitalization and nearly 3,000 people die.  Foodborne illnesses can be caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites.  Some individuals are likely to have significant symptoms from these infections.  These sensitive groups include young children, older adults, people with compromised immune systems and pregnant women.  The 5 most common foodborne illnesses in the United States include Norovirus, Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, Campylobacter and Staphylococcus aureus.  Although there are groups of individuals who are more sensitive than others, anyone can get sick from contaminated foods.  Below are a few tips to prevent the 5 most common foodborne illnesses. 

  1. Rinse foods before preparing them
  2. Wash hands at key times during the food preparation process, for example after handling raw meat or garbage
  3. Wash hands before and after eating meals and snacks
  4. Use separate sinks to wash hands after using the restroom and prior to washing for meals and snacks.  If separate sinks can not be used, disinfect them prior to washing hands for meals and snacks.
  5. Don’t allow foods to stay in the temperature danger zone (40-140 degrees F) longer than 1 hour
  6. Cook foods to appropriate internal temperatures
  7. Assure appropriate storage and handling of human milk. (Guidelines can be found in RISE helpàHealth, Safety and Wellness àNutrition)

Another less known food/water hazard can happen to infants 6 months and younger.  It is called Blue Baby Syndrome.  Blue Baby Syndrome can cause a bluish coloration due to lack of oxygen.  The lack of oxygen can lead to diarrhea, vomiting and lethargy, or more significantly death.  An infant under 6 months of age can get Blue Baby Syndrome from ingestion of nitrates.  For children in this age group, the most likely pathway of nitrate ingestion would be contaminated drinking water used to mix formula or a drink of this contaminated water.  The public water system monitors nitrate levels for public water systems.  However, it is the responsibility of the home/business owner to test well water for nitrates.  ***This is not a test that is required through state/city/ or ICCP licensing for child care business who have their own wells.

For more information about Blue Baby Syndrome or food safety, please contact your local Child Care Health Consultant or visit the helpful links included below. 

A live Targeted Technical Assistance training is also available for staff who would like to learn more about food safety and receive credit hours for it.  Contact your local IdahoSTARS Child Care Resource Center office for more information.

Author: Jill Hobbs, IdahoSTARS Health Consultant

Helpful links: