Jeb Bush John O. Agwunobi, M.D., M.B.A.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Bill Parizek
November 26, 2002 850-245-4111
HEALTH SECRETARY ISSUES HOLIDAY SAFETY REMINDERS
TALLAHASSEE – The Department of Health reminds Floridians that buckling-up and using proper food
handling measures are two major keys to ensuring a safe and happy holiday.
“For those traveling during this busy season, it is more important than ever to remember to buckle-up,”
said Florida Department of Health Secretary John O. Agwunobi, M.D., M.B.A. “And proper food handling,
both before and after cooking, will ensure that bacteria such as Salmonella and Campylobacter don’t put
a damper on the holiday spirit.”
While it’s always important to use seatbelts and child safety seats, it is even more important during busy
travel times like the holidays, when car crashes are more prevalent. Last year, 3,013 Floridians died in
fatal crashes, with 108 of these coming during Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. Additionally,
4,675 child passengers were either injured or killed last year in car crashes, with 13 deaths among
children 5 years old or younger not wearing restraining devices.
The Florida Department of Health’s Bureau of Emergency Medical Services is a partner in the Operation
ABC (America Buckles Children) Mobilization effort, which continues to support efforts to keep our
highways safe. Seat belts and child safety seats help prevent injuries and save lives. They firmly restrain
occupants inside the vehicle during a crash, preventing them from being ejected and from hitting the
inside of the vehicle and other occupants. For more information about Operation ABC and other travel
safety information, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website at www.nhtsa.gov
Dr. Agwunobi recommends the following guidelines for safe food handling:
• Wash your hands before preparing or eating food, after using the bathroom or changing a diaper,
after handling uncooked food, after playing with a pet, after handling garbage, after tending to
someone who is sick or injured, after blowing your nose, and after coughing or sneezing;
• When defrosting frozen foods, it is best to thaw the food in the refrigerator where it will remain at
a safe, constant temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. If that is not possible, food can
be defrosted in the microwave, or by running cold water over the food item;
• When preparing foods, follow the appropriate temperature guidelines for defrosting, cooking and
• Store leftovers within two hours of cooking.
Other information on cooking holiday meals can be obtained from the website and telephone numbers
For additional food safety information about meat, poultry, or eggs, call the toll-free USDA Meat and
Poultry Hotline at 1 (800) 535-4555; TTY: 1 (800) 256-7072. It is staffed by home economists, registered
dietitians, and food technologists weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern time, year round. An
extensive selection of food safety recordings can be heard 24 hours a day using a touch-tone phone.
4052 Bald Cypress Way • Tallahassee, FL 32399-1701