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Press Releases

May 16, 2016
As Picnic Season Begins, Protect Yourself from Foodborne Illness and Mosquitoes
Contact: Elaine Lidholm, 804.786.7686

“We love summertime living in Virginia,” says Sandy Adams, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS). “Many of our farms and parks offer a variety of outdoor recreation, often accompanied by outdoor dining. At VDACS, we want to help people reduce or eliminate associated risks with outdoor activities: foodborne illness and mosquito bites. With rising temperatures and no kitchen appliances at the picnic site, many foods need special handling, and picnickers can take a few simple steps to combat those pesky, disease-carrying mosquitoes.”

Preventing foodborne illness
Consumers should take four basic steps to keep food safe from harmful bacteria: Clean (wash hands, utensils, and fresh fruits and vegetables), Separate (keep raw meat, poultry, eggs and seafood separate from ready-to-eat foods and don’t contaminate plates or utensils), Cook (cook food to the proper internal temperature and check for doneness with a food thermometer) and Chill (make sure the cooler is packed with several inches of ice, ice packs or containers of frozen water; the recommended ratio is 75 percent food to 25 percent ice).

Detailed food safety information is available here.

Controlling mosquitoes
Prevention methods for mosquitoes include destroying standing water breeding sites, using insect repellents, wearing long sleeves and pants in light colors and avoiding mosquito-infested areas during peak biting times, usually dusk to dawn. Some plants – basil, lavender, rosemary, lemongrass and mint – ward off mosquitoes with their natural oils and aromas, so tie fresh herbs in a bundle for a pretty, yet functional centerpiece or plant them at home around your patio area.

“Before heading to the lake, river, beach, park or farm to enjoy a day in the fresh air and sunshine,” Adams concluded, “be sure you’ve noted these tips to keep you and your family safe.”

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