Health and Mind: National Food Safety Education Month

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, September 6, 2023

By Amanda Coomer and Amber Turner

Clark County Health Department

Food, water and shelter are the necessities of life for a person to survive. Food fuels our body, water hydrates and shelter protects.

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September is National Food Safety Education Month, and the environmental team at Clark County Health Department would like to discuss what being food safe means in our homes, workplaces and environment.

Food safety refers to the conditions and practices that preserve food quality to prevent contamination and food-borne illnesses. That’s the mystery of food-borne illnesses. You can’t smell, taste or see them through the physical eye. We’ve all heard of norovirus, salmonella typhi, Non-typhoidal salmonella, E-coli, shigella, and hepatitis A.

We refer to these as the “Big 6” Food-Borne Illnesses. Per Food and Drug Administration guidelines,  one in six Americans will experience a food-borne illness, which equates to 48,000,000 million food-borne illness cases annually. Though food-borne illnesses are easily ingested, they are a preventable diagnosis. Food-borne illnesses can be controlled through proper handwashing, proper food handling, safe storage and good sanitation practices.

However, the healthy average American can acquire a food-borne illness with minimal to non-detectable symptoms. Highly susceptible populations such as elderly, immunocompromised or children are more at risk for developing more severe cases that can lead to hospitalizations and death. Symptoms can vary from mild to severe, including but not limited to vomiting, diarrhea, fever, chills, headache, nausea, proctitis and death. Although symptoms may have a small incubation window, food-borne illness incubation periods vary from 24 hours to 30 days. People often mistake food poisoning for food-borne illness. There is a distinction between the two. Food-poisoning can arise within 30 minutes of ingestion. Common food poisoning includes staphylococcus aureus, clostridium perfringens, salmonella, clostridium botulinum, cyclospora and listeria. Foods associated with both food poisoning and food-borne illness are (raw or undercooked meats, milk, unpasteurized eggs, raw fruits & vegetables, potatoes, and lettuce. If you have experienced any of the following symptoms above, please seek medical attention with a licensed professional.

The Clark County Health Department strives to maintain food safety within our community. Our environmental team conducts regulatory inspections and follow-ups when necessary. It investigates complaint calls, ensures continuing education for our community is provided, and offers monthly food manager’s certification courses for those handling food working within Clark County.

Our community has 137 permitted food establishments that adhere to the 2013 FDA food code. Here at the health department, we also permit and oversee the setup of temporary food vendors who are also required to have an inspection performed based on KRS 217.125.

If you want to open a food establishment or a temporary food booth in our county, please get in touch with us at the Clark County Health Department Environmental Services and Population Health located at 273 Shopper’s Drive. Or call at 859-744-1488. If you are interested in additional information regarding food safety, please visit the websites: