Safe Summer Food Practices
Summer is here and with it comes backyard barbecues, camping trips, picnics, and days at the beach. But beware: If food is involved, food-borne bacteria may be lurking around the picnic basket.
Bacteria can multiply rapidly in warm outdoor temperatures, and food poisoning is the last thing you want at a picnic or cookout. When taking part in these favorite summer activities, be careful with protein sources such as meat, poultry, seafood and dishes that contain milk, cream, cheese or eggs. Follow these simple safe food practices:
- Wash your hands before handling food.
- Don't let raw foods, such as uncooked meat, poultry, and seafood, touch ready-to-eat foods, such as salad, since bacteria from the uncooked food can spread.
- Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
- Use one clean cutting board for raw meat products and another for salads and other foods that are ready to eat.
- To be sure bacteria are destroyed, cook hamburgers to 160 degrees F. Use a meat thermometer to check the inner temperature of the food.
- Grill raw poultry until the juices run clear and there is no pink close to the bone.
- Never put cooked food on a plate that previously had raw meat, poultry or seafood on it.
- Keep your menu simple.
- By taking items like peanut butter, bread, crackers, hard cheeses, fruits and dried meats, you don't have to worry about refrigeration.
- Pack your cooler so the items you plan to use first are on top.
- Large blocks of ice melt more slowly than cubes.
- If taking cooked foods, be sure to cook far enough ahead of time so they can be thoroughly chilled in the refrigerator.
- Use a separate cooler for drinks so the one containing food won't be constantly opened.
- Store the cooler in the air conditioned car when possible instead of in the hot trunk, even on the return trip home.
- Perishable leftovers should be refrigerated or stored on ice within two hours of cooking. If there is still ice in the cooler when you get home and the food is refrigerator-cool to the touch, the leftovers should be safe to eat.