State health officials say backyard cooks are apparently getting a little sloppy or too hurried in preparing meals. State Epidemiologist, Doctor Patricia Quinlisk, says there’s been a big increase this summer in food borne diseases. She says the most serious one is e-coli O-157 that causes diarrhea and occasionally cause kidney failure in children. She says there’s also been an increase in salmonella. Quinlisk says they’ve noticed a spike after the holidays and that’s one reason she thinks it’s related to improper home cooking. She says they’re just seeing sporadic cases all over the state, sometimes spreading to families. But she says there’s not been one food item or place involved, so they think it’s link to people grilling outside or being on picnics. Quinlisk says the number of cases has been enough for the state to issue a reminder.She says in the last three years they’ve only had 20 some cases of the e-coli O-157 by this time — but this year already we’ve had 47 cases. Quinlisk says the spike isn’t surprising –even with all the warnings about properly cooking food. She says she knows that when you’re grilling and the kids are hungry, there’s a tendency to want to take the food off the grill early. She says it’s disturbing because they’ve had a couple of cases where kids suffered kidney failure from improperly cooked food. Quinlisk says proper cooking is important, especially with ground meats.She says those can be dangerous because the bacteria can be mixed into the center of the meat. She says you have to be sure the patties are cooked so there’s not redness left in the meat and the juices are clear. Quinlisk says you should also not use raw eggs that haven’t been pasteurized if you’re making homemade ice cream.
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