UCHD, Protecting Your Health.


Wednesday, 04 December 2013 15:59

In Case of a Power Outage

Winter brings snow, ice, and power outages.

  • Food can stay safe in an unopened refrigerator for four hours.  A freezer that is half full will hold for up to 24 hours and a full freezer for 48 hours. 
  • Use generators outside only at least 20 feet from windows/doors. Don't grill or heat with gas oven inside. Fumes can kill. 
  • Stay warm and take precautions to keep body temperatures from dropping.  


Read below for some great safety tips from the Centers for Disease Control about how to keep your family safe when the power goes out!

Winter Power Outage


Published in Emergency Preparedness
Wednesday, 25 September 2013 18:40

Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures


food thermometer Use this chart and a food thermometer to ensure that meat, poultry, seafood, and other cooked foods reach a safe minimum internal temperature.

Remember, you can’t tell whether meat is safely cooked or "done" just by looking at it. Color and texture are unreliable.  Make sure your food has reached the correct temperature to kill illness-causing bacteria.  Meat question mark
(Download the chart to print at home)

Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures


Find out more safe cooking information at foodsafety.gov

Published in Food Safety
Tuesday, 24 September 2013 12:44

Food Safety Apps and Websites

"there's an app for that!"

Do you like technology?

Are you addicted to your smart phone?

Check out these website and app resources you can use to learn about food safety. 

Ask Karen icon



Ask Karen 
USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service

Ask Karen provides 24/7 virtual assistance and tips on preventing foodborne illness, safe food handling and storage, and safe preparation of meat, poultry, and egg products. Mobile Ask Karen has all the same features as Ask Karen from your desktop or laptop. You can get answers to your food safety questions while at the grocery store, farmers market, in your kitchen, or while at your barbecue grill.

Using your Android or iPhone device, you can chat live with a food safety expert on weekdays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. EST, and the app provides the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline number (1-888-MPHotline) in case you want to speak to someone directly.You can share answers to food safety questions via email from Mobile Ask Karen.

Ask Karen


Website version here: askkaren.gov

              Mobile: m.askkaren.govEn Español

Get the App:

               iphone/ipad/ipod here:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ask-karen-from-usda/id439084571?mt=8

             Get the Android here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=askkaren.gov&hl=en


Perfect Picnic icon




Perfect Picnic

By Huminah Huminah Animation 

Perfect Picnic makes you master of your own picnic park! Fill your park with grilling stations, picnic tables, trees, flowers, fountains and more! Earn income by renting out barbeque spots and keeping your park visitors happy. But watch out -- if there’s one sure way to ruin a perfect picnic it is food poisoning! Yuck!

Get the iphone/ipad app here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/perfect-picnic/id643279606?mt=8




FoodSafety.gov is the gateway to food safety information provided by government agencies.

According to the Key Findings of the Food Safety Working Group:

“The federal government will enhance www.foodsafety.gov to better communicate information to the public and include an improved individual alert system allowing consumers to receive food safety information, such as notification of recalls. Agencies will also use social media to expand public communications.”

Check them our to find recalls, videos, charts, campaigns, and so much more!



Fight Bac icon




Partnership for Food Safety Education

  The Partnership for Food Safety Education’s mission is to end illness and death from foodborne infection in the United States.

The Partnership is a one-of-a-kind nonprofit that supports health educators and influncers by making their work more visible, collaborative, and effective. The Partnership works with an active network of 10,000 field educators, providing them with tools they can use to educate people about protecting their health through safe food handling and hygiene.  
Check them out to find tips, facts and figures, campaigns, kid-oriented messages, teacher resources, e-cards, and so much more!
Published in Food Safety
Friday, 06 September 2013 14:39

Who's At Risk for Foodborne Illness

Food Safety: It’s Especially Important for At-Risk Groups

photos of lab scientist, laboratory, produce, and inspector looking at fish

Food Facts
 From the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Available in PDF (1.03MB)
También disponible en (Español) Spanish.

The food supply in the United States is among the safest in the world. However, when certain disease-causing bacteria or pathogens contaminate food, they can cause foodborne illness, often called "food poisoning." The Federal government estimates that there are about 48 million cases of foodborne illness annually — the equivalent of sickening 1 in 6 Americans each year. And each year, these illnesses result in an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. Although everyone is susceptible, some people are at greater risk for developing foodborne illness.

Who's At-Risk?

If you – or someone you care for – are in one of these high-risk groups, it's especially important to practice safe food handling. Vulnerable people are not only at increased risk of contracting a foodborne illness, but are also more likely to have a lengthier illness, undergo hospitalization, or even die.

Pregnant Women

Pregnant women holding her stomach Changes during pregnancy alter the mother's immune system, making pregnant women more susceptible to foodborne illness. Harmful bacteria can also cross the placenta and infect an unborn baby whose immune system is under-developed and not able to fight infection. Foodborne illness during pregnancy is serious and can lead to miscarriage, premature delivery, stillbirth, sickness or the death of a newborn baby.


Young boy getting a shot Young children are more at risk for foodborne illness because their immune systems are still developing.


Image of an elderly lady As people age, their immune system and other organs become sluggish in recognizing and ridding the body of harmful bacteria and other pathogens that cause infections, such as foodborne illness. Many older adults have also been diagnosed with one or more chronic conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis, cancer, or cardiovascular disease, and are taking at least one medication. The chronic disease process and/or the side effects of some medications may also weaken the immune system. In addition, stomach acid decreases as people get older, and stomach acid plays an important role in reducing the number of bacteria in the intestinal tract – and the risk of illness.


Image of a lady with cancer The immune system is the body's natural reaction or response to "foreign invasion." In healthy people, a properly functioning immune system readily fights off harmful bacteria and other pathogens that cause infection. However, the immune systems of transplant patients and people with certain illnesses, such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, and diabetes, are often weakened from the disease process and/or the side effects of some treatments, making them susceptible to many types of infections — like those that can be brought on by harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness. In addition, diabetes may lead to a slowing of the rate at which food passes through the stomach and intestines, allowing harmful foodborne pathogens an opportunity to multiply.

Foods to Avoid

If you are at greater risk of foodborne illness, you are advised not to eat:

  • Raw or undercooked meat or poultry.
  • Raw fish, partially cooked seafood (such as shrimp and crab), and refrigerated smoked seafood.
  • Raw shellfish (including oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops) and their juices.
  • Unpasteurized (raw) milk and products made with raw milk, like yogurt and cheese.
  • Soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk, such as Feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined, and Mexican-style cheeses (such as such as Queso Fresco, Panela, Asadero, and Queso Blanco).
  • Raw or undercooked eggs or foods containing raw or undercooked eggs, including certain homemade salad dressings (such as Caesar salad dressing), homemade cookie dough and cake batters, and homemade eggnog.
    NOTE: Most pre-made foods from grocery stores, such as Caesar dressing, pre-made cookie dough, or packaged eggnog are made with pasteurized eggs.
  • Unwashed fresh vegetables, including lettuce/salads.
  • Unpasteurized fruit or vegetable juices (these juices will carry a warning label).
  • Hot dogs, luncheon meats (cold cuts), fermented and dry sausage, and other deli-style meats, poultry products, and smoked fish — unless they are reheated until steaming hot.
  • Salads (without added preservatives) prepared on site in a deli-type establishment, such as ham salad, chicken salad, or seafood salad.
  • Unpasteurized, refrigerated pâtés or meat spreads.
  • Raw sprouts (alfalfa, bean, or any other sprout).

Foodborne Illness: Know the Symptoms

Symptoms of foodborne illness usually appear 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food, but may occur between 30 minutes and 4 weeks later. Symptoms include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (may be bloody), and abdominal pain
  • Flulike symptoms such as fever, headache, and body ache

If you suspect that you could have a foodborne illness, contact your physician or health care provider


Content provided by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Published in Safety
Friday, 06 September 2013 14:05


"An apple a day keeps the doctor away..." but make sure you are being mindful of safe food practices when you enjoy your favorite fruit or vegetable. 

Below you can find information from the FDA on how to select and serve raw produce safely. Enjoy!



Raw Produce: Selecting and Serving it Safely

photos of lab scientist, laboratory, produce, and inspector looking at fish

Food Facts
 From the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Available in PDF (3.5 MB).

También disponible en Español (Spanish)

WATCH a VIDEO on Seafood Safety WATCH a Video on Safe Handling of Raw Produce and Fresh-Squeezed Fruit and Vegetable Juices 

StrawberriesFruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. Your local markets carry an amazing variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that are both nutritious and delicious.  However, harmful bacteria that may be in the soil or water where produce grows may come in contact with fruits and vegetables and contaminate them. Fresh produce may also become contaminated after it is harvested, such as during preparation or storage.  Eating contaminated produce (or fruit and vegetable juices made from contaminated produce) can lead to foodborne illness, often called “food poisoning.”  As you enjoy fresh produce and fresh-squeezed fruit and vegetable juices, follow these safe handling tips to help protect yourself and your family.

Buy Right

You can help keep produce safe by making wise buying decisions at the grocery store.

  • Purchase produce that is not bruised or damaged.
  • When selecting pre-cut produce — such as a half a watermelon or bagged salad greens — choose only those items that are refrigerated or surrounded by ice.
  • Bag fresh fruits and vegetables separately from meat, poultry and seafood products when packing them to take home from the market.
Keep your refrigerator set at 40° F or below. Use a fridge thermometer to check!
  • Store Properly

Proper storage of fresh produce can affect both quality and safety.

  • Store perishable fresh fruits and vegetables (like strawberries, lettuce, herbs, and mushrooms) in a clean refrigerator at a temperature of 40°F or below. If you're not sure whether an item should be refrigerated to maintain quality, ask your grocer.
  • Refrigerate all produce that is purchased pre-cut or peeled to maintain both quality and safety.

Separate for Safety

Keep fruits and vegetables that will be eaten raw separate from other foods such as raw meat, poultry or seafood — and from kitchen utensils used for those products. Take these steps to avoid cross-contamination:

  • Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counter tops with soap and hot water between the preparation of raw meat, poultry and seafood products and the preparation of produce that will not be cooked.
  • If you use plastic or other non-porous cutting boards, run them through the dishwasher after use.

Prepare Safely

 When preparing any fresh produce, begin with clean hands. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after preparation.

  • Cut away damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables before preparing and/or eating. Produce that looks rotten should be discarded.
  • Wash all produce thoroughly under running water before eating, cutting or cooking. This includes produce grown conventionally or organically at home, or purchased from a grocery store or farmer's market. Washing fruits and vegetables with soao or detergent or using commercial produce washes is not recommended.
  • Even if you plan to peel the produce before eating, it is still important to wash it first so dirt and bacteria aren’t transferred from the knife onto the fruit or vegetable. FDA has a poster, Wash Fruits and Vegetables (PDF: 1.6MB), you can print and display to remember to wash your fruits and vegetables before eating.
  • Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush.
  • Dry produce with a clean cloth towel or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present.
Produce Safety: Lettuce

What About Pre-Washed Produce?

Many pre-cut, bagged, or packaged produce items like lettuce are pre-washed and ready-to-eat.  If so, it will be stated on the packaging.  If the package indicates that the contents are pre-washed and ready-to-eat, you can use the produce without further washing.

If you do chose to wash a product marked “pre-washed” or “ready-to-eat,” be sure to use safe handling practices to avoid any cross contamination.

Produce Safety: Sandwich

Sprouts: What You Should Know

Like any fresh produce that is consumed raw or lightly cooked, sprouts that are served on salads, wraps, sandwiches, and Asian food may contain bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. Unlike other fresh produce, seeds and beans need warm and humid conditions to sprout and grow, and these conditions are also ideal for the growth of bacteria, including Salmonella,Listeria, and E. coli.

Rinsing sprouts first will not remove bacteria. Home-grown sprouts also present a health risk if they are eaten raw or lightly cooked.

What can consumers do to reduce the risk of illness?

  • Children, the elderly, pregnant women, and persons with weakened immune systems should avoid eating raw or lightly cooked sprouts of any kind (including onion, alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts).
  • Cook sprouts thoroughly to reduce the risk of illness. Cooking kills the harmful bacteria.
  • When you’re eating out, ask that raw sprouts not be added to your food. If you buy a ready-made sandwich, salad, or Asian food, check to make sure raw sprouts have not been added

Questions and Answers about Fresh Produce

What is "organic produce"? 
Organic produce is grown without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation.

Before a product can be labeled "organic," a government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer meets the U.S. Department of Agriculture's organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it reaches the supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.

What is ethylene gas - and how does it affect produce? 
Some fruits and vegetables - like bananas - naturally produce ethylene gas when they ripen. Oftentimes, such fruits and vegetables are harvested in the unripened state to preserve firmness and for long shelf life; they are later exposed to ethylene gas to induce ripening.

What does the "use-by" date mean on a package of fresh produce? 
"Best-If-Used-By- (or Before)" date is the last date recommended for peak quality as determined by the manufacturer of the product.

Why are wax coatings used on fruits and vegetables? 
Many vegetables and fruits make their own natural waxy coating. After harvest, fresh produce may be washed to clean off dirt and soil - but such washing also removes the natural wax. Therefore, waxes are applied to some produce to replace the natural waxes that are lost.

Wax coatings help retain moisture to maintain quality from farm to table including:

  • when produce is shipped from farm to market while it is in the stores and restaurants

  • while it is in the stores and restaurants
  • once it is in the home

Waxes also help inhibit mold growth, protect produce from bruising, prevent other physical damage and disease, and enhance appearance.

How are waxes applied? 
Waxes are used only in tiny amounts to provide a microscopic coating surrounding the entire product. Each piece of waxed produce has only a drop or two of wax.

Coatings used on fruits and vegetables must meet FDA food additive regulations for safety. Produce shippers and supermarkets in the United States are required by federal law to label fresh fruits and vegetables that have been waxed so you will know whether the produce you buy is coated. Watch for signs that say: "Coated with food-grade vegetable-, petroleum-, beeswax-, or shellac- based wax or resin, to maintain freshness."


Content provided by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Published in Health
Thursday, 05 September 2013 18:51

Food Safety Honor Roll

Did you know that according to the National Restaurant Association, 96% of people say it is IMPORTANT to know that the restaurants they visit train employees in food safety and that 81% of people say they would be MORE likely to visit a restaurant that trains ALL of their employees in food safety?

Certificate FSM

In other words: Consumers are more likely to visit establishments that value safe food handling and procedures. Promoting the fact that you take food safety seriously can lead to increased revenue and happier customers!



As part of Food Safety Month and as a service to our operators, Union County Health Department is starting a program called the Food Safety Honor Roll*. Each September during Food Safety Month, UCHD will publish a list of  food establishments who exhibit dedication and commitment to safe food handling and train their staff in food safety. The list is self-nominated and will be published on our website throughout the year as well as released to the local media. It is a great way to increase the public’s confidence in your establishment and attract more customers.

UCHD is excited to kick off the Food Safety Honor Roll for publication in September 2014. For establishments who want to begin promoting their commitment to food safety this year, check out uchd.net to let consumers know that you value food safety and pledge to train your staff in safe food handling. The Food Safety Honor Roll is all about working in cooperation with food service operators to encourage participation in food safety education and is a free way for outstanding operators to promote their businesses.

To make the honor roll fill out the iconFood Safety Honor Roll and submit by July 31st to be included in that year’s Food Safety Honor Roll.



*Note: The Food Safety Honor Roll is a self-nominated list that is then reviewed by UCHD. Establishments on the list may not necessarily be the safest food service establishment but are ones that have voluntarily chosen to show a dedication to food safety. Establishments missing from the list may still be dedicated to following food safety practices and procedures just have not provided UCHD with that information through the Food Safety Honor Roll Program. This program is used as an encouragement for businesses already following strict food safety practices and training schedules by rewarding them by publicly sharing their noteworthy food safety dedication status. The program is also used as an incenitive for other establishments to increase food safety training and practices in their businesses. 


Please feel free to direct any Food Safety Honor Roll and Food Safety Month questions to elizabeth.schill@uchd.net.


Published in Food
Thursday, 05 September 2013 13:43

More Information

Published in Health
Wednesday, 04 September 2013 20:31

Home Canning

Did you know  food safety recommendations change? 

         No one wants their doctor to write them a prescription from the 70's. Treatments for diseases such as diabetes and cancer have dramatically changed in the last forty years due to advances in science and technology.

Similarly, our knowledge of food safety has also advanced over the past few years. To be safe don’t use the same canning method your grandmother used.

  •  Always use current, up-to-date and scientifically tested canning techniques (outdated cookbooks and methods such as boiling or hot water canners can be deadly, since, they don’t protect against all foodborne illnesses)
  • Use pressure cookers with low-acid home canned foods to protect against botulism
  • High-acid foods such as fruits and tomatoes are safe to process in boiling water
  • Always inspect your jars before eating and never taste a jar’s contents to check for spoilage


Read below for more home canning food safety. 

You can also check out Home Food Preservation tips at the Ohio State University

 and http://ohioline.osu.edu/lines/food.html for additional fact sheets, cooking guides, and additional resources.

Published in Health
Tuesday, 03 September 2013 18:42


Refrigerate food promptly. 2 hours max out of the fridge!


Storage Times for the Refrigerator and Freezer

These short but safe time limits for home-refrigerated foods will keep them from spoiling or becoming dangerous to eat. The guidelines for freezer storage are for quality only. Frozen foods remain safe indefinitely.

For storage times for eggs and foods made with eggs, see Egg Storage Chart.

Food Storage times

Published in Health
Tuesday, 03 September 2013 18:06

Food Safety for Food Operators


September is National Food Safety Month

      The Union County Health Department is joining forces with the National Restaurant Association as well as the Ad Council and the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, in partnership with the FDA and CDC to increase awareness of food safety in both food service establishments and homes in Union County. Each year, 1 in 6 Americans or gets sick by consuming contaminated foods or beverages with the majority of illnesses being preventable.  Foodborne illnesses can cause flu-like symptoms to hospitalization or even death. Here at UCHD we work hard to prevent and respond to food safety issues

        Our goal is to work together with you, the food operators, to decrease the rate of foodborne illness and the number of foodborne outbreaks in our backyard. We hope you join us by reinforcing safe food handling practices and procedures with your staff as well as taking advantage of the many educational opportunities available to you this month and throughout the year.

The National Restaurant Association offers free online training activities and posters that you can access through our website along with many other resources.  Look out for more information coming your way as we campaign for good personal hygiene, prevent cross-contamination, control time and temperature, and encourage proper cleaning and sanitizing procedures.

Remember food safety is about working together to keep everyone healthy and happy. We at UCHD want to collaborate and work with managers and operators for better results. ‘Cause no one wants foodborne bacteria as a dinner guest!  

Food Safety Honor Roll check here for information on our new program encouraging/rewarding establishments that practice food safety and train employees in safe food handling and procedures.


Need a license? Check here for information on how to apply and what is needed.

Want to know what the rules are? Follow this link to find out along with other resources for food operators. 

National Restaurant Association

Published in Food
Page 1 of 2