In warmer weather, food spoils more quickly, and bacteria multiply more rapidly. And as temperatures continue to rise across the country, it’s important to keep food safety in mind. For this month’s activity, join us in a discussion on summer food safety: What are some of the special precautions that you take to keep food safe at summer picnics and barbecues? What experiences do you have with foodborne illness in relation to outdoor events and summer eating? And do you avoid certain foods because of their risk of carrying foodborne illness during the hot summer months? For example, I know I tend to shy away from bacteria-cultivating potato salad at summer picnics.
Here are a few food safety tips to help you stay safe this summer:
Wash your hands.
Handwashing is the number one weapon against the spread of foodborne illness, even in the summer. After a day of adventures outside, don’t forget to wash your hands before preparing and eating food. And don’t forget to wash your hands after handling raw meats. If you don’t have running water and soap at your picnic, bring hand sanitizer or hand wipes to clean your hands.
Marinate meat in the refrigerator.
Meat should never marinate on the counter, especially in the heat of the summer. After marinating meat in the refrigerator, make sure to cook it to its required temperature. Poultry should be cooked to 165°F, ground beef should be cooked to 155°F, and fish should be cooked to 145°F. For a more complete list of temperatures, click here.
Don’t leave food sitting out longer than 2 hours.
Although it’s usually safe to leave Time/temperature Control for Safety (TCS) foods out on the counter for 4 hours, if it’s above 70°F, the food should only be left out for 1 or 2 hours. The warmer weather allows bacteria to multiply more rapidly.
Don’t reuse dishes or utensils that have come into contact with raw meat.
Even though you might be working with limited preparation space—dishes or utensils that have come into contact with raw meat should only be used once until they can be properly cleaned. After finishing your barbeque, don’t pile your hamburgers back onto the same plate you brought them out on. Never cut your fruits and vegetables on the same cutting board that was just used for cutting raw meat.
What are some other ways you treat food preparation differently for a picnic or barbeque? For a longer list of tips, click here.
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