Nutrition: Burgers, Slaw -- and Salmonella (cont.)
Get the leftovers back into the cooler as soon as possible. Bacteria can begin to grow to dangerous levels in food that sits out for over two hours at room temperature (one hour if temperatures are 90 degrees or higher). When in doubt, throw it out.
Also, be wary of reheating foods that may have been contaminated. While you may be successful at killing any microorganisms that have proliferated, some bacteria (staphylococci and E. coli 0157:H7) produce heat-resistant toxins that remain behind even after the bacteria are destroyed and can cause severe diarrhea -- or worse.
The good news, as summer arrives, is that Americans from New York to Alaska are becoming more aware of the dangers of food poisoning, and better at preventing it. The most recent CDC statistics show that food-related infections are down by 19%.
So don't be afraid to pack up your picnic basket and celebrate summer with a glorious feast. Just be vigilant when you're handling and preparing food. Whatever you do, don't let Grandma's famous potato salad sit out on the picnic table all day. Grandma is the last person in the world who would want you to get sick.
Originally published May 22, 2000.
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