FOOD SAFETY AND POISON PREVENTION ADVISORY
ISSUED BY GIANT FOOD AND REGIONAL POISON CENTERS
Landover, MD (December 15, 2004) The
National Capital Poison Center, the
Giant Food LLC, have issued a holiday food safety and poison
prevention advisory as planning for holiday parties begins. Illnesses related to food borne bacteria have
been described as the second-leading cause of sickness in the U.S. behind the
common cold. Handling foods safely
during the holiday rush is the key to enjoying a tasty and healthy holiday.
Unintentional poisonings from non-food substances occur at holiday time also. Last year, the
National Capital Poison Center and
Maryland Poison Center, handled more
than 8000 combined calls during the mid November to New Years holiday period.
Food Safety Tips
"Consumers need this
information," said Odonna Mathews,
Giant's Vice President of Consumer Affairs. "In a nationally representative survey,
conducted by the Partnership for Food Safety Education, more than one in three consumers
do not discard perishables left out more than two hours, and less than half use
a thermometer for checking the internal temperature of meat and poultry when it
"Consumers need to remember the 4 simple steps to
food safety... Clean, Chill, Separate and Cook so that the foods served at holiday events are safe and wholesome,"
emphasized Ms. Mathews.
Clean: In the holiday rush, don't bypass hand washing and
washing counter tops before preparing food. Always use clean utensils for preparation and serving.
Chill: Store food at
proper temperatures. Perishable food,
including party platters, meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products, eggs and
cooked vegetables cannot be left out above refrigeration temperatures (40
degrees F). Bacteria grow quickly
between 40 and 140 degrees F. Donít
store these foods in the garage or on the porch which may not be cold enough.
"If the party lasts more than a couple of hours, remove foods
from the table and put out fresh foods within two hours. Refrigerate leftovers promptly," added
Separate: Cross-contamination occurs when foods that are eaten
raw, such as salads, fruits and vegetables or when cooked foods, become
contaminated with bacteria from raw meat, poultry, seafood or their juices.
Wash hands, cutting boards, utensils and
dishes with hot soapy water if they have been in contact with raw meat, poultry
or seafood. "Remember don't mix
fresh foods with foods that have been on the buffet table. Keep them separate," said Ms. Mathews.
Cook: "Using a thermometer is the best way to cook and
reheat foods safely and to not over or undercook them. A quick
response thermometer is the most versatile tool for checking foods in the oven,
the microwave or on top of the stove," Ms. Mathews noted.
Holiday Poison Prevention Tips
Rose Ann Soloway, RN, Clinical Toxicologist at the Capital Poison Center,
notes that young children put everything in their
mouths, and thereís a lot to reach for during family gatherings and holiday
parties. "You donít want children to
wake up in the morning to find leftovers and drinks from the night before.
Spoiled food and alcohol poisoning can be
dangerous for a young child. Other
holiday items, such as poisonous berries, and lamp oil that looks like soda,
can also pose health threats to children," said Ms. Soloway.
Ms. Soloway continued, "If you suspect a poisoning of
any kind, call your poison center right away at 1-800-222-1222.
This number is portable and will connect you
with the local poison center, no matter where you travel in the United
States. In the Washington, DC Metro
area, you will reach the National Capital Poison Center. Elsewhere in Maryland, you will reach the
Maryland Poison Center. Both poison
centers are staffed with experienced, certified health care providers 24 hours
a day, seven days a week, including holidays."
Ms. Soloway offers the following tips to prevent
holiday poisonings in children:
Lock up medicines and household products out of childrenís sight and reach.
This is especially important when families
visit as older adults may forget how fast and curious children can be.
- Many adult medicines can poison children who swallow only one or two pills.
- Lamp oil is deceiving to young children. It looks like a beverage but can easily get into the lungs and cause pneumonia if children try to swallow it.
- Button batteries are attractive to children and easy to swallow. They are found in toys, games, cameras, watches, and hearing aids. If swallowed, they can get lodged in the esophagus (tube leading from the mouth to the stomach), and this is a medical emergency. Store batteries as safely as you do medicines and household products.
- Use child-resistant packaging. Close the caps tightly after use.
- Clean up food, alcoholic beverages, and ashtrays right after a party, so that children wonít sample them in the morning.
- Appoint one person to monitor each child during a gathering.
- Decorate with non-poisonous plants or place possibly poisonous plants well out of childrenís reach. Common poisonous berries include holly and Jerusalem cherry.
In addition, Ms. Soloway recommends taking certain steps
to protect family and friends from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas
released by anything which burns fuel including cars, furnaces, water heaters,
stoves and ovens, fireplaces, and space heaters.
- Have appliances, chimneys and flues inspected by a professional.
- Install carbon monoxide alarms, especially outside of sleeping areas.
Ms. Soloway recommends posting the
poison center phone number (1-800-222-1222) near every phone and to call the
poison center right away in the event of a possible poisoning to get expert
advice. " Most of the time poisonings can
be treated at home. Donít guess; call
for expert help right away. Even if you
just have a question about a poison, call the experts at your poison center,"
noted Ms. Soloway.
Check these web sites for more information:
National Capital Poison Center
Maryland Poison Center
Giant Food LLC
About Giant Food LLC
Giant Food LLC, headquartered in Landover, MD, operates 201 supermarkets in
Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia, and
employs more than 25,000 associates. Giant stores in New Jersey and Delaware
operate under the Super G name. Included within the 201 stores are 172
Each year, Giant contributes more than $6 million in cash, goods and services to
support charitable and community organizations in the markets it serves. Giantís
commitment to education, for example, is demonstrated through its annual
sponsorship of the popular high school television quiz program Itís Academic as
well as the A+ BonusBucks Program, which has awarded nearly $11.4 million to
area schools since 2000. Giantís commitment to the local community is further
enhanced through its support of area food banks. The company annually collects
over a quarter of a million dollars in funds and tons of non-perishable
products, which are donated to food banks to help feed the hungry in local
Giant is a member of the Ahold USA group, owned by Ahold of the Netherlands.
Ahold USA currently operates six prominent supermarket companies along the
eastern seaboard including The Stop & Shop Supermarket Company, headquartered in
Boston, MA; Giant Food LLC, based in Landover, MD; Giant Food Stores LLC, based
in Carlisle, PA; Tops Markets LLC, with headquarters in Buffalo, NY; BI-LO LLC,
headquartered in Mauldin, SC and Brunoís Supermarkets, Inc., with headquarters
in Birmingham, AL. Jointly they operate over 1,300 supermarkets. Ahold (NYSE:
AHO) is a leading food provider in the United States and elsewhere in the world
with 2003 consolidated net sales of approximately USD 50 billion.
About the National Capital Poison Center
The National Capital Poison Center, serves the 4 million residents of the
Washington, DC metropolitan area. A staff of board-certified medical
toxicologists, a board-certified clinical toxicologist, and nurses and
pharmacists nationally certified in poison information answer about 50,000 calls
per year. Since it opened nearly 25 years ago, The National Capital Poison
Center has provided emergency services, poison prevention information and
education, and training for health care professionals throughout its service
area. In addition, National Capital Poison Center staff provide national
leadership in research and poison prevention education.
The National Capital Poison Center is certified as a regional poison center by
the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Rose Ann G. Soloway, RN,
MSEd, DABAT is Clinical Toxicologist at the National Capital Poison Center. In
addition, she is the current chair of the Poison Prevention Week Council.
About the Maryland Poison Center
The Maryland Poison Center has been a service program of the University
of Maryland School of Pharmacy since 1972. The service has grown and changed
quite a bit over the years. During the first year, the Maryland Poison Center
received 5,600 calls. In 2003, the center took over 61,000 calls. Despite the
increase in call volume, the commitment to providing the best quality poison
triage, treatment, education and prevention services has never changed. The
number to call is 1-800-222-1222.
The Maryland Poison Center is certified by the American Association of Poison
Control Centers (AAPCC) as a regional poison center providing poisoning triage,
treatment, education, and prevention services to all Marylanders. This service
is staffed by pharmacists and nurses, who have specialized clinical toxicology
training, 24 hours a day, every day of the year. All of our specialists have
been certified by the AAPCC as Specialists in Poison Information. On average,
each specialist has over ten years of experience managing poisoning and overdose
cases. The center has the best qualified, best trained staff available to best
meet the needs of the state.
In addition to the knowledge, skill, and experience of the Poison Specialists,
the Director of the program is board certified in Clinical Toxicology and the
medical director is boarded in Emergency Medicine as well as in Medical
Toxicology. And, to make sure the center has all the bases covered, it has
additional specialized consultants available as well.