Category Archives: Hennepin Regional Poison Center

Food prep tips for a healthy Thanksgiving meal

Food safety tips for before and after your Thanksgiving meal
from the Minnesota Poison Control System


While Thanksgiving is a time for families and friends to gather, express gratitude, and enjoy a meal together, this time of year is also associated with an increased risk of food poisoning.  America’s 55 poison centers help manage tens of thousands of cases involving suspected food poisoning each year.   This Thanksgiving, the Minnesota Poison Control System (MPCS), encourages Americans to take a few simple food safety precautions to prevent food poisoning and help ensure a delicious and safe Thanksgiving meal.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1 in 6, or 48 million people contract food poisoning each year, with approximately 128,000 of those people being hospitalized and 3,000 dying of illnesses associated with food poisoning.  According to Stephen T. Kaminski, JD, AAPCC CEO and Executive Director, “the good news is that food poisoning is largely preventable.  By taking a few simple food safety precautions, you can avoid offering food poisoning a seat at your Thanksgiving table.  And remember, if you do suspect food poisoning, expert help is a quick, free call away at 1-800-222-1222.”

Symptoms of food poisoning usually appear within hours of eating
contaminated food, and often include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pains, and diarrhea.  Food poisoning symptoms can last anywhere from a few hours to several days.  While most food poisoning cases are mild and resolve without medical care, some episodes can be more severe and require expert treatment advice. “Pregnant women, young children, and those with vulnerable immune systems should be especially cautious during the holiday season. By saving the Poison Help phone number into a mobile telephone, anyone can be prepared in the event of a poisoning emergency,” said Kaminski.

The MPCS offers the following simple food safety tips for preparing and enjoying your holiday meals:


  • Keep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods in your grocery bags, in the refrigerator, and while prepping.
  • Wash your hands, kitchen surfaces, utensils, and cutting boards frequently, especially after handling or preparing uncooked food and before touching or eating other foods. Wash produce but not eggs, meat, or poultry, which can spread harmful bacteria.
  • Use the microwave, cold water, or the refrigerator method to defrost your frozen meat or poultry. Do not thaw or marinate these items on the counter, and be sure to cook them immediately after thawing.


  • The bacteria that cause food poisoning multiply quickest in the ‘Danger Zone,’ which is between 40˚ and 140˚ Fahrenheit. In general, it’s best to keep hot food hot, and cold food cold.
  • Use a food thermometer to check if meat is fully cooked and heated high enough to kill harmful bacteria. Cook turkey until it reaches 165° F.
  • The safest way to cook stuffing is outside of the turkey in a casserole dish. However, if you choose to cook stuffing inside the turkey, stuff the turkey just before cooking, and use a food thermometer to make sure the center of the stuffing reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165°F. Remove the stuffing immediately after the turkey is finished cooking and place in a separate serving dish.


  • Refrigerate leftovers promptly – within two hours – at 40° F or below to help reduce the risk of bacterial growth.
  • Prevent cross-contamination by completely and securely covering foods in the refrigerator.
  • Consume or freeze leftovers within 3-4 days.

The Minnesota Poison Control System is available to provide expert, free, and confidential information and treatment advice 24-hours per day, seven days a week, year-round, including holidays. If you have any questions about safe food preparation, or if you or someone you know suspects food poisoning, call the Poison Help line at 1(800) 222-1222.

Poison HelpFor more information, the media may contact Kirk Hughes, Education
Director at 612-873-5644 or Deb Anderson, Managing Director at 612-873-2107.

To learn more, visit, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter @mnpoisoncenter.



Cold weather increases risk for carbon monoxide poisoning

Poison HelpWith home-heating season near, the Minnesota Poison Control System and the Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division remind Minnesotans that the risk of dangerous exposures to carbon monoxide (CO) increases — but these exposures can be prevented.

Approximately 500 people die each year in the United States due to unintentional CO poisoning. Another 150,000 people end up in the emergency room. Children are especially vulnerable. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, 14 Minnesotans died of carbon monoxide poisoning in 2014.

Sources of Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, and poisonous gas which can leak from faulty furnaces, water heaters or gas stoves. Other sources include a running car engine in an attached garage or a gas-powered generator operating indoors or outside close to dwellings. Outdoor generators should be placed more than 20 feet from your home, doors and windows.

What are the Symptoms?
Carbon monoxide prevents effective delivery of oxygen throughout the body in the bloodstream. At lower levels, carbon monoxide can cause flu-like symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue

At higher levels, or with prolonged exposure, it can cause chest pain, confusion, disorientation, impaired vision and coordination, brain damage, coma and death.

iStock_000070642173_LargeHow Can You Protect Your Family?
Install CO detectors in your home. Minnesota law requires  all single family, apartment and multifamily dwellings have a UL-listed CO alarm within 10 feet of each bedroom.

Replace old CO detectors in your home. As a general rule, CO detectors need replacing every five years.  Follow manufacturer recommendations for more specific replacement information.

If the CO alarm sounds and anyone is feeling symptoms of CO poisoning, leave the house immediately. Call the Poison Center, fire department, local emergency medical services or local utility company.

For more information about CO poisoning, contact the Minnesota Poison Control System anytime at 1-800-222-1222 or visit us on the web at The State Fire Marshal Division has more information at

 Fire Marshal


Poison Prevention Tips for Child Safety

Poison HelpNational Poison Prevention Week
March 15 – 21

In support of National Poison Prevention Week, March 15-21, the Minnesota Poison Control System and Safe Kids Minnesota are offering simple suggestions to keep children safe. The organizations emphasize that poisonings can happen anytime, anywhere, and to anyone.

The Poison Center states that about 50 percent of poisonings occur in children under the age of six and 94% of poisonings occur in the home. Recent research from Safe Kids Worldwide found that only 4% of parents expressed concerns about poisoning compared to other injury hazards in the home. In another Safe Kids report, 77% of children’s poison-related emergency room visits were related to exposure to medications belonging to a parent or grandparent.

To prevent these incidents, the Poison Center and Safe Kids Minnesota offer these important tips for families:

  • Program the nationwide Poison Help number (1-800-222-1222) into your cell or home phones.
  • Keep medicines and household products in their original containers.
  • Keep all medicines and household products up high and out of sight or locked up. If visitors are expected in your home, make sure suitcases and purses are stored out of children’s reach; remind visitors to take responsibility for their own medications.
  • Take the time to read and follow the label before taking or giving medicine.

Key Facts About the Minnesota Poison Control System

Anytime, anywhere, anyone can call the Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Anytime: The Poison Center Emergency Call Center is available 24/7/365. It’s free and confidential.

Anywhere: In 2014, the Poison Center managed 48,446 calls statewide from homes, schools, workplaces, and health care facilities statewide.

Anyone can call for help managing poison emergencies including; parents, caregivers, community members, emergency medical personnel, nurses, and physicians.

The Poison Center saves lives and money throughout Minnesota. Every dollar spent on Poison Center services saves over $13 in unnecessary medical costs. Ninety-one percent of exposures in the home are safely managed at home with expert consultation.

In 2014, Poison Center services saved Minnesotans $35 million in health care and lost productivity costs and prevented 27,000 unnecessary Emergency Department visits.

Visit or for more prevention tips, educational resources, and downloadable materials. Follow The Poison Center on Twitter @mnpoisoncenter or on Facebook.

The Minnesota Poison Control System is located at Hennepin County Medical Center. The Poison Center is designated by the Minnesota Department of Health to provide poison information and consultative services to the entire State of Minnesota.

Safe Kids Minnesota works to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the number one cause of death for children in the United States. Safe Kids Minnesota is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing unintentional injury. Safe Kids Minnesota was founded in 1988 and is led by the Minnesota Safety Council. For more information, visit   or

Glow sticks: safe to wear – but not to eat!

177682286Glow sticks, bracelets, and necklaces have become part of the Halloween experience. These toys are cheap, portable, and emit a colorful glow making them perfect to increase visibility of children while trick or treating.   

A glow stick consists of a small, fragile plastic or  glass vial containing a chemical activator housed inside a larger plastic vial containing the dye solution.  When the inactivated glow stick is bent, the glass vial breaks allowing the previously separated chemicals to mix.  The resulting chemical reaction causes a non-heat generating light emission.  While these chemicals are not very poisonous, the chemicals can irritate the skin and eyes.  If swallowed, the chemicals can cause a burning feeling.

If a child inadvertently breaks or chews through a glow stick or there are other questions regarding potential poisoning, call the Minnesota Poison Control System at 1-800-222-1222 for treatment recommendations.   Information about the Minnesota Poison Control System can be found at

Poison Help
The Minnesota Poison Control System is a cooperative effort between the Minnesota Department of Health and Hennepin Regional Poison Center.   Hennepin Regional Poison Center is designated by the Minnesota Department of Health to provide poison information and consultative services to the entire State of Minnesota.