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Swimming and Food Safety

Summer is a great time to spend time outdoors especially if you're enjoying a day at the pool or waterpark or eating delicious food during a gathering. But swimming and food can pose a danger!

Swimming Safety

Recreational water illnesses (RWIs) are caused by germs and chemicals found in the water we swim in. They are spread by swallowing, breathing in mists or aerosols of, or having contact with contaminated water in swimming pools, hot tubs, water parks, water play areas, interactive fountains, lakes, rivers, or oceans. RWIs can also be caused by chemicals in the water or chemicals that turn into gas in the air and cause air quality problems at indoor aquatic facilities.

Awareness of recreational water illnesses (RWIs) and healthy swimming behaviors play an important role in stopping transmission of RWIs. Germs on and in swimmers’ bodies end up in the water and can make other people sick. Even healthy swimmers can get sick from RWIs, but the young, elderly, pregnant women and immunosuppressed persons are especially at risk. Specific actions you can take to promote healthy swimming include:

  • Do not swim when you have diarrhea

  • Do not swallow pool water or get pool water in your mouth

  • Shower before swimming (children too!)

  • Wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers

  • Take children on bathroom breaks or change diapers often

  • Change children’s diapers in a bathroom, not at poolside

To make this summer a healthy swimming experience, we urge swimmers to continue to enjoy swimming, but only after adopting healthy swimming behaviors to reduce the risk of recreational water illnesses.

For more information about swimming safety and RWIs, visit cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/swimmers/rwi.html.

Summer Food Safety

Foodborne illness peaks in the summer because bacteria grow faster during the warm summer months. Given the right temperature and humidity, harmful bacteria can quickly multiply on food, causing someone to possibly get sick. People also commonly get a foodborne illness during the summer because outdoor cooking areas aren't as sanitary as your kitchen is.

So what can you do to prevent foodborne illness this summer?

  • Clean: Wash hands and Surfaces Often

    • Unwashed hands are a prime cause of foodborne illness. If water and soap isn’t available to properly wash your hands, bring your own water, soap and disposable washcloth, moist towelettes or paper towels for cleaning hands. It’s also a good idea to have hand sanitizer available.

  • Separate: Don’t Cross-Contaminate

    • Cross-contamination during preparation, grilling and serving food is a prime cause of foodborne illness.

    • When packing a cooler, wrap raw meats securely; avoid raw meat juices from coming in contact with ready-to-eat food.

    • Wash plates, utensils and cutting boards that held the raw meat before using again for cooked food.

  • Cook: Cook to Proper Temperatures

    • Take your thermometer with you. Meat cooked on a grill often browns very fast on the outside but may not be cooked on the inside. Different meats require different minimum temperatures for proper cooking.

  • Chill: Refrigerate Promptly

    • Holding food at an unsafe temperature is a prime cause of foodborne illness. Keep perishable food cold! Pack plenty of ice or ice packs to keep food cold until it’s ready to cook or eat.

  • Leftovers: If in doubt, throw it out!

    • Food left out of refrigeration for more than 2 hours may not be safe to eat. Above 90 °F, food should not be left out over 1 hour. Once your done eating, put any leftovers on ice so they don’t become unsafe to eat.

For more information about summer food safety, visit foodsafety.gov/keep/events/summervacations/index.html.