Summer Food Safety
The days are warmer and longer and the kids are just about out of school and that means it is time for outdoor cooking and eating. Gathering around the patio table for a BBQ is one of summer’s most-loved traditions, but while you are planning your meal be sure to consider the best way to keep your family safe, too. Food-borne illnesses can be caused by leaving some foods unrefrigerated for too long, or under-cooking meats. In fact, Salmonella is much more common in summer and causes an estimated one million “food poisonings” in the US each year.
Keep It Cool!
When you are taking food outdoors, make sure to keep them cool by using an insulated cooler and gel packs, ice, or frozen foods. It is especially important to keep raw meat, poultry, seafood and luncheon meats cool, as well as summer salad favorites like egg, potato or macaroni salad. Dairy products like milk and cheese should also be kept cool, along with fruits and vegetables that have been cut up for serving.
Remember that a full cooler will stay cold longer, and keep it in the shade whenever possible.
Some Like it Hot!
If you are grilling, it is best to have a meat thermometer handy so you can be sure the food is cooked to a safe temperature. Keep the food cool until you are ready to put it on the grill and don’t re-use cooking tools or plates that have touched raw meat.
Ground meats like hamburger should be cooked to a minimum temperature of 160 degrees F. Chicken and other poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees F. Beef, pork, lamb and veal should all be cooked to at least 145 degrees F and allowed to rest for 3 minutes or longer.
Rules To Live By
Here are a few more tips to keep your family and friends safe from food-borne illnesses this summer:
- Always thaw or marinate meat in the refrigerator, not on the counter.
- Do not let food sit out for longer than two hours, or if it is hotter than 90 degrees, put it away after one hour.
- Keep raw meat and vegetables separate to avoid cross-contamination.
- Serve cold foods in small portions and keep the bulk in the cooler or refrigerator until it is needed. Cold foods should be kept at 40 degrees F or below until ready to serve.
- Keep condiments cool until you are ready to use them, and put them away as soon as everyone is done eating.
- Keep grilled foods warm by placing it on a grill rack or to the side where coals are not as hot.
- Pack cold drinks in a separate cooler from foods, so the cooler isn’t opened repeatedly. Keeping coolers closed helps keep foods cold longer.
- Take hand wipes, paper towels and jugs of water, and soap when you go on a picnic.
- Wash your hands frequently! Washing before and after preparing food, handling pets, changing diapers or using the bathroom will help keep you and your family safer.