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Keep food, water safe when outdoors, says Alberta Health Services

Red Deer Advocate - 8/7/2022

Alberta Health Services is reminding people to keep their food and water safe when enjoying the outdoors this summer.

"Outdoor barbecuing and picnics often mean limited access to refrigeration and clean water," the provincial health agency said in a press release this past Friday.

"High temperatures and humidity create ideal conditions for bacterial growth such as E. coli and salmonella, which can cause food-borne illnesses.

"Common symptoms of foodborne illnesses include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps. Some foodborne illness can cause a high fever and blood in your stool. Most of the time, foodborne illnesses are mild and go away after a few days. Drink plenty of fluids and rest. If you are not getting better or have severe vomiting and diarrhea, contact your doctor or call Health Link at 811 to speak with a registered healthcare professional."

Anyone who contracts a foodborne illness may be contacted by a local Environmental Public Health office to gather information that will help prevent others from getting sick.

AHS recommends the following to prevent foodborne illnesses:

  • Keep cold foods cold. Pack perishable foods in a cooler with ice or freezer packs to maintain a temperature below 4 C.
  • Never use the same plate or utensils for cooked and uncooked foods.
  • Always cook meats until the internal temperature has reached a safe temperature, measured with a meat thermometer.
  • Always wash your hands before and after handling raw meat, and wash all utensils and surfaces immediately after touching raw meat.
  • Wash all farm-fresh fruit and vegetables before you eat them.
  • When camping and enjoying the outdoors, store food in durable airtight containers to help keep animals away and never bring food into your tent or sleeping areas.

"In addition to keeping your food safe, it's important to have access to clean water during outdoor activities. Unclean water can contain bacteria, viruses and parasites," said AHS.

"If not available, bring safe water for cleaning, cooking, drinking and handwashing, or use boiled or filtered water. Learn more about safe drinking water."

Albertans are asked to avoid drinking water from lakes, rivers and streams when hiking, camping or fishing.

"Clear water from mountain streams may look safe but could contain harmful parasites."