By Heather A. Goesch, MPH, RDN, LDN

Foodborne illness – a disease, usually infectious or toxic in origin, caused by agents that enter the body through the ingestion or handling of food – affects an estimated 48 million Americans annually, hospitalizing approximately 128,000 people and causing about 3,000 deaths [1].

An event in which two or more people get the same illness from the same contaminated food or drink [2] is considered an ‘outbreak,’ and when crossing state lines, it becomes a ‘multistate outbreak.’ These multistate outbreaks are not uncommon in the US, and already in 2018 nine major outbreaks have already been investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Recent sources include Kellogg’s Honey Smacks Cereal (salmonella), pre-cut melon (salmonella), shell eggs (salmonella), romaine lettuce (E. coli), and pre-made chicken salad (salmonella) [3-7]. These five outbreaks alone sickened a total of 663 individuals, resulting in 259 hospitalizations and six deaths.


Risk of food poisoning is increased in pregnant women, young children, older adults, and individuals with compromised immune systems [8]. During the summer months, regular high temperatures, outdoor gatherings, and storm-related power outages are all factors that may promote bacteria growth on foods.


Common symptoms* of foodborne illness include:

·       Diarrhea and/or vomiting, typically lasting 1 to 7 days

·       Abdominal cramps, nausea, flatulence, bloating, indigestion, bloating, and appetite loss

·       Chills or sweating, dehydration, and fever

·       Joint or back aches, dizziness, fatigue, and lightheadedness

*Time between exposure and symptom onset can range from several hours to one week.

But no matter the time of the year, your age or life stage, foodborne illnesses can be prevented in most cases with proper food storage, handling and cooking procedures.


To help prevent development and spread of foodborne illness, here are a few simple tips [9]:

·       Before and after preparation and handling of foods, always wash your hands, cutting boards, countertops, utensils and cooking surfaces.

·       Properly rinse or scrub fruit and vegetables under cool running water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten (e.g., citrus fruit, melons, pineapple, kiwi).

·       Do not rinse meat or poultry – this may spread bacteria and increase illness risk.

·       Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs from other foods in your shopping cart or basket, grocery bags and refrigerator.

·       To avoid cross-contamination, designate one cutting board for fruit and vegetables and a different one for raw meat, poultry and seafood; use separate clean utensils for both, and wash hands between related tasks.

·       In the refrigerator, keep the temperature at 40°F or below, ensure foods are stored inside within two hours of cooking, and aim to keep leftovers no longer than 3-4 days.

·       Never defrost foods at room temperature. Instead, safely defrost overnight in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave.

·       During cooking (and reheating), food is safe to eat when it reaches an internal temperature high enough to kill any potentially harmful bacteria that may cause foodborne illness.

·       At outdoor gatherings, keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. (Specific guidelines here.)

·       If you aren’t sure how long a food has been sitting out or has been kept in your refrigerator, and whether it is still safe or not, follow the rule: “When in doubt, throw it out.”

·       If you are among the aforementioned high-risk populations, avoid these potentially hazardous foods.


Contracting a foodborne illness can be a possibility but it is not a foregone conclusion. Keep yourself, your family and your friends safe this summer and all year long by practicing smart food safety.




Your Meals are Tasty, But Cook with Safety, Family Food, LLC

Food Safety at the Grill, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

The Rules of Separation at the Grill, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Tailgating Food Safety, USDA




1.       U.S. Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Multistate Outbreak. Accessed 7 July 2018.

2.       U.S. Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Multistate Outbreaks. Accessed 7 July 2018.

3.       U.S. Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Mbandaka Linked to Kellogg’s Honey Smacks Cereal. Accessed 9 July 2018.

4.       U.S. Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Adelaide Infections Linked to Pre-Cut Melon. Accessed 9 July 2018.

5.       U.S. Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Braenderup Infections Linked to Rose Acre Farms Shell Eggs (Final Update). Accessed 7 July 2018.

6.       U.S. Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Multistate Outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 Infections Linked to Romaine Lettuce (Final Update). Accessed 9 July 2018.

7.       U.S. Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium Linked to Chicken Salad (Final Update). Accessed 9 July 2018.

8.       U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Food Safety: It’s Especially Important for At-Risk Groups. Accessed 10 July 2018.

9.       FIGHT BAC!® Partnership for Food Safety Education. The Core Four Practices. Accessed 10 July 2018.

Quick Meals: Veg-Style!

By Jessie Funchion, MS, RD, LDN


Most of these ideas…

  • Take about 15 minutes to prepare
  • Use a mix of convenience foods and fresh foods
  • Have at least 3 food groups
  • Are around 350-450 calories (subject to portion size/appetite!)


1)    Breakfast for dinner

  • Whole wheat toast with 1/3 avocado and fried egg (5 minutes)
    • Make it vegan – sub ½ cup white beans and smash with avocado to make a guacamole like spread
  • Clean out the fridge frittata (30 minutes) – use any vegetable you want.
  • Cereal (Kashi Barbara’s, Nature’s Path) low-fat milk of choice, ½ cup fruit (1 minute)

2)    Semi-Homemade

  • Asian Noodle Salad: Noodles (soba/udon), Baked Tofu or frozen edamame + Slaw Mix + Sesame or Teriyaki dressing (15 minutes
  • Tip: Throw shelled frozen edamame into your boiling noodle-water for last couple minutes
  • Israeli Salad: Israeli couscous, cucumber, tomato, feta cheese, white beans, capers, lemon, olive oil (15 minutes)
  • Bi Bim Bap – frozen rice, tofu, fried egg, frozen or fresh vegetables, Gochuchang sauce (15 minutes)
  • Banza Pasta (15 minutes)
  • Red sauce w/ frozen vegetables
  • White sauce with garlic, spinach and goat cheese (recipe)

3)    The Freezer is your Friend

  • Vegetable Frozen Pizza + Side salad (20 minutes)
  • Check the calories and make sure to keep ‘pizza calories’ to less than 300, which is usually 1/3 the pizza
  • Trader Joe’s Vegetable Stir Fried Rice (5-10 minutes)
  • Tip: Add extra edamame and frozen vegetables for a more filling meal
  • Chana Masala (5 minutes)
  • Add extra drained/canned chickpeas to maximize protein and minimize the heavy sauce + frozen rice

4)    Simple Sandwiches (5 minutes)

  • PB & J or fruit slices on whole wheat bread
  • Veggie Sandwich: Hummus, roasted red peppers, arugula, onion, etc.

5)    Hearty Snacks (less than 5 minutes)

  • ½ cup black beans, ½ cup corn, salsa + Triscuits or Flax chips
  • Yogurt Parfait: Low fat greek yogurt, 1 cup fruit and 1/3 cup granola


In order to execute these super quick meals, set up your pantry for success by stocking up on these staples:


Proteins: Canned beans, eggs, prepared tofu, frozen edamame, peanut butter, hummus

Grains: Frozen brown rice or grain mixes, whole wheat bread, whole grain cereal, whole wheat or bean based pasta

Frozen: fruit/veg mixes, 1-2 frozen meals or pizzas

Dairy: low fat milk or unsweetened soy milk, yogurt

Sauces: 1-2 flavorful sauces such as Teriyaki sauce, salsa, Gochuchang


In addition to these staples, try to purchase 3-5 varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables each week to supplement these recipes with. But if that’s tough to do, frozen fruits and veggies work too.