As summer approaches, the number of farmer’s markets, roadside food stands, and other outdoor markets grows. The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) reminds Iowans that warmer weather makes it even more important to ensure food is properly transported, cooked and stored.
“The variety of fresh foods available at outdoor markets means you should come prepared when shopping,” said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. “Bring a cooler with ice to transport perishable products home and just as you should when shopping at a grocery store, buy cold foods like meat and poultry last, right before leaving.”
Drive directly home from the market so the food doesn’t sit in a hot car any longer than necessary. Once home, place meat and poultry and fresh non-pasteurized items, like salsas and guacamole, in the refrigerator right away. Freeze poultry and ground meat that won’t be used in one or two days and freeze other meat within four to five days. Whether purchased at a grocery store or roadside stand, it’s always important to wash your hands before and after handling food. In addition, always keep your kitchen, dishes and utensils clean, and always use one plate for raw foods, and another for cooked foods to avoid cross-contamination. For more information on food safety, visit www.idph.state.ia.us/Cade/Foodborne.aspx.
Summer is also prime garage sale season. Buyers and sellers should be aware of potential safety issues with children’s toys and cribs. Make sure items are in good working order. Also, check the online database from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (www.saferproducts.gov) to ensure these items have not been recalled due to safety issues. For example, products used in the nursery, especially cribs and bassinets, have caused deaths and have been the subject of numerous recalls of millions of units. Do not sell any broken or wobbly nursery furniture or infant products that are missing parts, even if it has not been recalled. A baby’s life could depend on it.
“Also, bed bugs have been making national headlines for years,” said Quinlisk. “Mattresses and sleeper sofas (that have been slept on) are two of the main places these bugs hide out. If buying used beds or mattresses, check them carefully for signs of bed bugs.” Small bloodstains from crushed bed bugs or dark brown spots from their droppings may be evident on mattresses. Because young bed bugs shed their skin several times, the “empty shells” may also be evident.
While bed bugs do not transmit disease, their bites cause large, itchy welts. Although infestations can be treated by pest control companies, it’s best to avoid selling or buying mattresses with signs of bed bugs. For more information, visit www.idph.state.ia.us/eh/healthy_homes.asp.