BCBSNM Offers Safety Tips as Food Poisoning Peaks in Summer Months
Albuquerque, NM — Whether folks are enjoying a summer-time picnic, barbeque by the pool, or a Labor Day potluck, they’re more likely to get food poisoning now than any other time of the year. In fact, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico (BCBSNM) covered 506 food-borne illness claims last year—more in September than any other month. As a result, USDA, professional chefs, and BCBSNM wellness experts are offering advice on how to keep food-borne illnesses off the menu. (Click on hyperlinked quotes to view or download interview footage.)
"If you have a fruit that has a peel or a rind that you’re not going to eat, you actually do have to wash it," says Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, nutrition director, Good Housekeeping Research Institute. "If you’re cutting through it, you don’t want to introduce bacteria into the flesh of the fruit."
"We know especially for hamburgers that one out of every four hamburgers may look cooked. It may not have any pink inside at all. But that hamburger hasn’t reached a safe internal temperature of 160 degrees. So if you eat that hamburger, you could possibly get sick," says Diane Van, manager, USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline.
The advice is part of the BCBSNM Be Smart. Be Well.® website that includes video clips of the experts as well as personal testimonies from victims of food-borne illnesses.
"I didn’t know to stay away from soft cheese," says one victim. "I didn’t know that it could harbor pathogens like listeria. I ended up with flu-like symptoms and then went into pre-term labor at 33 weeks!"
In addition to the "10 Tips to Prevent Food-borne Illness" on Be Smart. Be Well., BCBSNM has also posted the following lists on its website:
- Summer BBQ Shopping List
- Safer Alternatives for Outdoor Eating
- 5 Signs of Food Poisoning
"We've made a commitment to encourage wellness throughout this community, so we aren’t just sharing this message with our members,” said Dr. Matthew Fontana, Chief Medical Officer, BCBSNM. “We’re especially concerned about people heading into the Labor Day weekend and we want everyone to be as safe as possible.If someone thinks they may have been infected by a food-borne illness, they should get as much rest and water as possible. If they can't hold fluids, or if symptoms are severe or persist for more than three days, they should contact their doctor or call 911."
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico
With 312,000 members and serving another 63,000 New Mexicans through the nationwide BlueCard® Program, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico is the largest commercial membership health insurer in New Mexico. Since 1940, BCBSNM has been committed to promoting the health and wellness of its members and communities through accessible, cost-effective, quality health care. BCBSNM is a Division of Health Care Service Corporation, the country’s largest customer-owned health insurer and fourth largest health insurer overall. Health Care Service Corporation is a Mutual Legal Reserve Company and an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
Becky Kenny (505-816-2012 or 505-999-8806, Becky_Kenny@bcbsnm.com)