Health officials urge holiday partiers to check caterers

Health officials are urging residents who hire caterers for their holiday parties to ensure the caterers are properly permitted or licensed.

Foodborne illnesses account for more than 300,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths each year in the United States, Larry Michael, head of the Food Protection Branch in the state Division of Environmental Health, said in a news release.

“Last year, North Carolina had multiple norovirus outbreaks linked to caterers operating illegally from homes not inspected by the local health department,” Michael said. “That’s why it is important to know where your food comes from and how it is prepared.”

Michael added that asking the right questions can prevent contracting a food- borne illness this holiday season.

Holiday planners need to ask potential caterers if they are permitted and inspected by the Mecklenburg County Health Department. That information can be found at http://mecklenburg.digitalhealthdepartment.com.

Other questions to ask include how food temperatures are maintained during transportation and where the food was prepared.

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