Foodborne illness can truly spoil the memory of a romantic Valentine's Day, so whether you are dining out in Lake County restaurants or staying home for a romantic dinner for two, here are some tips.
Going out? Before you make reservations, you may want to check the Lake County Health Department's restaurant inspection reports at http://lake.il.gegov.com/lake/. You can select the period of time for the reports you'd like to see, and even choose the type of cuisine you want to eat. Or, you can zero in on a particular spot if you know the exact name or address.
The Health Department's Food Protection Program is responsible for permitting, regulating and inspecting over 3,000 food service facilities operating in Lake County. Inspectors check things such as food temperatures, hand washing by employees and cross contamination from one food product to another. The ultimate goal of the program is to reduce the occurrence of foodborne illness and to promote safe food handling practices throughout the community. This goal is realized by inspecting and surveying food operations and by educating food handlers and the public on food safety.
Staying in? Foodborne illness can easily happen in your own kitchen without the proper precautions, so here are ways to prepare your valentine a safe meal.
Wash your hands in warm soapy water for 20 seconds prior to handling food. Just sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice; that should be about 20 seconds.
Keep raw meat, poultry, eggs and seafood away from ready-to-eat foods to avoid cross contamination by bacteria or viruses from one food to another. Be sure to thoroughly wash cutting boards and utensils in hot soapy water after using them to prepare these types of raw foods.
Cook all food to proper temperatures to kill the harmful organisms that cause foodborne illness, and refrigerate leftovers quickly because cold temperatures keep harmful bacteria from growing and multiplying. Generally, heating foods quickly to 165oF, and cooling foods to 41oF or below within 4 hours will do the job. To learn more, you can take a quick on-line food safety course by going to http://www.lakecountyil.gov/Health/want/Pages/Inspections.aspx and clicking on the "Free General Food Safety Training" link. It's free, fun and only takes about 30 minutes to complete.
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