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Food contamination warnings pop up in our emails from the Yavapai County Community Health Services much more frequently now than they did in the past.

You may not remember receiving these warnings before, which could either mean there weren’t as many products to recall or the county incorporated a new system to protect the health and welfare of its residents.

Either way, the notices — and their frequency — make grocery shopping and preparing meals for families much more difficult.

What if this peanut butter is contaminated? Will this popcorn make my family sick? Even vegetables have been found to be carrying bacteria capable of making people extremely sick.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 6 Americans get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die from foodborne illness each year.

Symptoms range from upset stomach to organ failure, which can cause long-term illness and sometimes death.

The most common are norovirus, Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens and Campylobacter. E. coli and Listeria also make the headlines.

The CDC offers five tips for protecting your family from foodborne illness:

■ Wash hands and surfaces frequently — Hands need to be washed for 20 seconds with soap and hot water, and utensils and surfaces need to be cleaned after each use. Rinse fruits and vegetables but not meat, poultry or eggs.

■ Separate — Use separate cutting boards for raw vegetables and raw meat, poultry and eggs. Also keep these items separate in the shopping cart, shopping bags and refrigerator.

■ Cook thoroughly — Use a thermometer to ensure dishes are cooked to the recommended heat. Keep them hot while serving.

■ Refrigerate properly — Store foods that spoil easily in the refrigerator, and refrigerate cooked foods within two hours of eliminating their heat source.

■ Report — If you become ill, let the health department know.

Also pay attention to local and national recalls of products thought to be contaminated, and get rid of any products reported immediately.


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