Don’t Let Yersiniosis Spoil Your Holidays!
by Maribel Alonso, Bilingual Information Specialist, USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service
The holidays are a cherished time of year, when you enjoy the company of family and friends. Why spoil it with symptoms of yersiniosis, such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, headache, fever, and vomiting?
If you and your family are preparing chitterlings or any other food prepared with hog intestines to celebrate the New Year, find out how you can protect yourself and those you care about from yersiniosis.
Yersiniosis is a foodborne illness caused by Yersinia enterolitica. When raw pig intestines are cleaned and cooked in household kitchens to prepare chitterlings, it creates a messy environment in which cross contamination with Yersinia can occur.
After chitterlings are thoroughly boiled and carefully prepared, the final product is not likely to be a risk for foodborne illness. The risk comes from the preparation process. This harmful bacteria can be spread to kitchen counters, tables, utensils, and even baby bottles and pacifiers. People can also get yersiniosis from consuming raw or undercooked pork.
Reduce the Risk of Yersiniosis
Use this checklist to make sure you do everything possible to reduce the risk of Yersiniosis from chitterlings:
- Follow the four steps--Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill--at all times when preparing and handling food.
- Thaw chitterlings in the refrigerator. Wrap the container of raw chitterlings in plastic wrap before placing it in the refrigerator, or set it on a plate or tray.
- Buy precooked chitterlings. Or, if using raw chitterlings, pre-boil them for 5 minutes before cleaning and cooking. (This will kill any harmful bacteria without changing the flavor.)
- Thoroughly wash hands with soap and warm water for a full 20 seconds before and after the preparation of chitterlings.
- Wash utensils, cutting boards, dishes, and countertops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before moving on to the next item.
- Sanitize countertops, equipment, utensils, and cutting boards with a freshly prepared solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of water. Flood the surface with the bleach solution and allow it to stand for several minutes. Rinse with clear water and air dry or pat dry with clean paper towels.
- Keep children out of the kitchen when chitterlings are being prepared.
- Boil and simmer chitterlings until are well cooked and tender.
- Enjoy a safe meal with family and friends.