; As Food Poisoning Cases/Costs Rise, BCBSTX Offers Caution Heading Into Memorial Day Weekend
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Press Release

As Food Poisoning Cases/Costs Rise, BCBSTX Offers Caution Heading Into Memorial Day Weekend

May 24, 2012

RICHARDSON – As Texans prepare for barbeques and picnics by the pool this Memorial Day, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) offers caution against food poisoning.  The state’s largest health insurer has noted an increase in the number of food borne cases as well as the cost to treat their conditions.  Last year, BCBSTX covered 6,917 related claims – 200 more than the year before – with an average of 63 more during summer months. In addition, the cost to treat cases of food poisoning in Texas jumped from $8 million in 2010 to nearly $11 million in 2011.  As a result, BCBSTX is sharing advice to help keep people safe this holiday weekend.

“Hamburger can be cooked to different degrees of doneness, some people like it rare, some people like it medium rare,” says Chef Wook Kang, Le Courdon Bleu Chef and Food Safety Instructor. “You’re going to get a very juicy burger but there is a risk that you will get sick.”

The advice is part of BCBSTX’s public service website, “Be Smart. Be Well.” that includes video clips of health experts as well as personal testimonies from victims of food-borne illnesses.

“Pregnant moms [should] pay attention to the doctor’s list of foods to stay away from,” says Erin, a food borne illness victim featured on BeSmartBeWell.com.  ”Not everybody understands to stay away from your deli meats, unpasteurized cheese, and soft cheese. Being a food-borne illness survivor, knowing that my child almost died! You don’t take a day for granted.”

In addition to the “10 Tips to Prevent Food-borne Illness“ on Be Smart. Be Well., BCBSTX has also posted the following lists to its website:

“We’ve made a commitment to encourage wellness throughout this community so we aren’t just sharing this message with our members,” said Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, chief medical officer, BCBSTX.   “We’re especially concerned about people heading into the Memorial Day weekend and we want everyone to be as safe as possible. If someone thinks they may have been infected by a food-borne illness, they should get as much rest and water as possible.  If they can’t hold fluids, if symptoms are severe or persist for more than three days, they should contact their doctor or call 911.”

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas -- the only statewide, customer-owned health insurer in Texas – is the largest provider of health benefits in the state, working with nearly 40,000 physicians and 400 hospitals to serve 4.8 million members in all 254 counties. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas is a Division of Health Care Service Corporation (which operates Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in Texas, Illinois, Oklahoma and New Mexico), the country’s largest customer-owned health insurer and fourth largest health insurer overall. Health Care Service Corporation is a Mutual Legal Reserve Company and an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

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The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally-operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide healthcare coverage for more than 105 million members – one-in-three Americans.  For more information on the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and its member companies, please visit bcbs.com. We encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube, follow us on Twitter and check out The BCBS Blog, for up-to-date information about BCBSA.