The calendar says it’s not quite summer but the heat says otherwise. More people are gearing up their outdoor activities including cooking out. Dr Jill Michels, Director of the Palmetto Poison Center, says in order to slow the development of bacteria that can cause food poisoning, make sure that foods– especially meats and dairy products– are not kept out in the heat for long periods of time prior to cooking or serving.
Michels says, if you are on the lake, at the beach, or camping, it’s a good idea to keep plenty of ice on hand to properly preserve your food while you’re enjoying the great outdoors.
Michels says food, even after being prepared, should not be left out or uncovered for long periods of time. She says the center gets a number of calls relating to young children who get sick after eating food that was left out after a cookout or other gatherings. Michels emphasizes that for children it is especially important for parents to pay close attention to the early symptoms that may signal the onset of food poisoning and to make sure they maintain the child’s intake of water and other fluids.
She says it’s also important that, when symptoms of food poisoning occur, people should resist their initial reaction to take medications to relieve the symptoms. Michels says to first consult with your doctor.
The Palmetto Poison Center hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with pharmacists and nurses fielding calls at 1-800-222-1222. Michels says they even handle calls involving contact with poisonous plants like poison ivy, and various bites and stings including those involving jellyfish.