Don't Let Foodborne Illness Spoil Your Holiday Meals

Monday, December 18, 2017
DES MOINES, IA (December 18, 2017) – Good food, family, and friends – it’s the axiom of Holiday celebrations.  Whether eating at a favorite restaurant or purchasing a catered meal, food safety should never be left at home.  Improper food temperature is one of the leading causes of foodborne illness, according to the food safety experts at the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA).

The following tips offered by DIA’s Food & Consumer Safety Bureau may help prevent an unpleasant Holiday dining experience:
  • Avoid raw or undercooked foods as they can potentially harbor germs or microorganisms that could lead to foodborne illness.
  • Foods that are held at improper temperatures can pose a potential health risk as it doesn’t take long for toxins and bacteria grow in a warm environment.  Remember to serve hot foods hot and cold foods cold.

The same food safety tips should be followed when picking up a catered meal.  Hots foods should be packaged so that they retain their heat and cold foods should be properly refrigerated.  Once a catered meal is obtained, the consumer should make sure that all food items are maintained at the appropriate temperature until service.  Additionally, leftovers should be refrigerated immediately after service to avoid the potential for foodborne illness.

Report Suspected Foodborne Illness

While no one plans to become ill after a Holiday meal, reporting a possible foodborne illness is an effective way to prevent others from becoming sick.  Generally, the first symptoms of a foodborne illness present themselves approximately 24-48 hours after consuming a contaminated food.  If you experience diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever or vomiting after eating food prepared outside your home, call 1-844-IowaSic (1-844-469-2742).  Staff with the Iowa Department of Public Health will answer your call and ask about the foods you’ve eaten for the past several days, your symptoms, and when the onset occurred.  

If a licensed food establishment is implicated, the information will be sent to DIA’s Food & Consumer Safety Bureau for further investigation.  This quick and easy call to the IowaSic hotline could greatly reduce the impact of foodborne illness in Iowa and prevent others from suffering from an improperly prepared or served Holiday meal.

Check the Establishment’s History
When selecting a restaurant or caterer for a Holiday meal, Iowans are reminded that they can check an establishment’s regulatory history by visiting the Department’s USA Food Safety website (  Reports from inspections or complaint investigations conducted at any one of the state’s more than 24,000 food establishments are available for immediate viewing.  Corrective actions taken by restaurants also are displayed for the consumer’s review.

Additionally, DIA’s mobile application – IA Food Inspections – can assist users by allowing them to search for restaurants by business name, city, or zip code.  The app, which is available for smart phones through Google Play and the App Store, was designed for ‘foodies on the move’ and permits the user to pinpoint restaurants and food establishments on the map and shows their address and phone number.  Violations from each establishment’s last inspection also are displayed so the user can make an informed decision about his or her dining choice.

Printed from the website on June 22, 2018 at 1:48pm.