This year, cases of food-borne illness are up. Some areas had more reported cases by the beginning of summer than all of last year.
There are many types of food-borne illness, from E. coli, salmonella and Norovirus to the cyclospora parasite. During summer, bacteria tend to flourish thanks to warm temperatures and social habits like picnics, barbecues, and hiking, which take food out of food safe temperatures and magnify mistakes in food hygiene (and store bought can be even higher risk). One good thing? The highly contagious norovirus is generally a winter problem, and summer illness can generally be managed with airtight food safety practices.
Safe food temps is a big one, especially if you’re going to be eating outside. Keep cold things cold and hot things hot. Equally important? Cross contamination, whether it’s uncooked food or double dipping, don’t let bacteria spread to anything you want to eat. At warm temperatures, bacteria multiply fast.
Since you can’t always rely on others to follow food-safe guidelines, make sure to take good care of your gastrointestinal tract, too. A healthy diet full of gut supporting probiotics can help you to be more ready for incoming pathogens. Probiotics help digestion, but they may also fight off and crowd out bad bacteria, viruses, and parasites. You can get probiotics from a supplement like Flora MGR (easy to take a little extra quickly if you think you ate something that will upset you), or from fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and some pickled foods.
Don’t get struck by a summer stomach bug, make sure you take lots of precautions. If you don’t have some Flora MGR on hand, make sure to pick up a little extra.
Share your favorite summer recipes and how you keep them safe with us in the comments: