November 26, 2019
Jennifer Miller, 608-266-1683
Elizabeth Goodsitt, 608-266-1683

DHS Urges Residents to Set a Healthy Table this Thanksgiving

Advice comes as DHS investigates E. coli and hepatitis A infections

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is urging state residents to take extra care while preparing their Thanksgiving meals this week. While hygiene is always important in food preparation, recent outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 and hepatitis A infections shines a bright light on how vital hygiene is.

“The holidays are a time to enjoy the company of friends and family, and no one should have to worry about getting sick from the food shared at these gatherings,” said Jeanne Ayers, State Health Officer. “Follow some simple steps to ensure your Thanksgiving dinner is safe.”

Follow these tips to ensure that foods you serve during the holidays, or anytime, are safe to eat:

  • Wash hands thoroughly and often with soap and water, especially before eating, during and after preparing food, before eating, after going to the bathroom, or after changing diapers. Cleanliness is important to avoid spreading illness.
  • Avoid spreading germs between foods in the kitchen by using separate cutting boards and utensils for fruits, vegetables, and meat. 
  • Use a meat thermometer to be certain your turkey, other poultry, fish, or any food you serve is cooked to a safe temperature. Foods are properly cooked when they are heated for a long enough time and at a high enough temperature to kill harmful germs that cause illness.
  • Keep hot food hot and cold food cold. Refrigerate or freeze any perishable food within 2 hours.

On November 13, DHS was alerted to a spike in the number of cases of infection caused by E. coli O157 H:7 bacteria. 21 of those cases have now been confirmed to be part of a multi-state outbreak linked to romaine lettuce harvested in Salinas Valley, California. The majority of cases in this multi-state outbreak are from Wisconsin. CDC and DHS advise consumers not to eat or serve any romaine lettuce harvested from Salinas Valley, California.

At the same time, DHS was alerted to cases of hepatitis A linked to fresh blackberries sold by Fresh Thyme Farmer’s Market stores. If you purchased blackberries from Fresh Thyme between September 9 and September 30, 2019, do not eat them and throw them away.

Anyone diagnosed with an E. coli infection or hepatitis A should not handle or prepare food.

Be sure to avoid eating the specific foods that have been linked to these outbreaks to help keep your family safe.

For updates on the investigations, monitor the DHS Outbreaks and Investigations webpage and follow @DHSWI on Facebook, Twitter, and dhs.wi on Instagram