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New York City Seal
Press Release
New York City Department of Health
Office of Public Affairs
CONTACT: Sandra Mullin/Andrew Tucker
Thursday, May 23, 2002
(212) 788-5290
(877) 640-1347


With Memorial Day approaching this weekend, the New York City Department of Health (DOH) today offered recommendations for healthy food preparation practices for the holiday weekend and throughout the summer.

New York City Health Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, said "Memorial Day weekend marks the kickoff of summer fun for New Yorkers, including the traditional barbeques and picnics. By following simple safety measures when preparing food, both indoors or outdoors, New Yorkers will significantly reduce the possibility of consuming harmful bacteria that can cause foodborne illness."

There are many different types and causes of foodborne illness; symptoms may include fever, nausea, and diarrhea. While usually mild, symptoms can occasionally be severe and even life threatening. Infants, the elderly, and persons with compromised immune systems may be more susceptible to the effects of foodborne illnesses. DOH offered the following tips for preparing food safely:

  • Grill or cook chopped meat until well done. Avoid rare or undercooked hamburgers. Juices should be clear, and cooked meat should be brown throughout.
  • Cook poultry thoroughly. Juices should be clear, without any trace of pink coloring.
  • Keep raw meat and poultry, as well as their drippings, from coming into contact with other foods to avoid contamination by bacteria in uncooked meat and poultry.
  • Do not put cooked meat or poultry on the same platter as raw meat or poultry.
  • Wash kitchen surfaces, cutting boards, and utensils with hot, soapy water after preparing raw meat and poultry.
  • Always wash hands with hot, soapy water immediately after touching raw meat or poultry -- if you have handled raw meat or poultry, wash your hands thoroughly before touching the telephone, a child, etc.
  • Keep packages of frozen meat or poultry frozen until ready to use. Thaw in the refrigerator or microwave -- not on a counter or other surface.
  • Keep hot foods hot. Refrigerate leftovers immediately. Perishable foods should not be left at room temperature for longer than two hours.

The New York City Department of Health's Poison Control Center is always available to provide immediate help and advice in medical emergencies, including concerns about foodborne illness symptoms. The Poison Control Center hotline phone numbers are (212) POISONS (764-7667), (212) VENENOS (836-3667) for Spanish language speakers, and (212) 689-9014 for TDD users.

Non-English speaking callers are served through AT&T Language Line Services, which translates more than 140 languages on demand. The Poison Control Center is open for emergencies and advice 24 hours a day, every day of the year, including Memorial Day.