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Six Simple Summertime Food Safety Tips

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Six Simple Summertime Food Safety Tips

Summer and barbecue season are here! It’s time to get outdoors and have a picnic or cookout with friends and family. But along with eating outdoors comes the concern for food safety. Warm temperatures and outdoor food preparation set the stage for unwanted guests…bacteria that can cause food-related illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million) get sick from contaminated food or beverages. To protect you, your family, and friends from food-borne illness during warm-weather months, safe food handling and cooking when eating outdoors is critical. Everyone can practice safe food handling by remembering to CLEAN-SEPARATE-COOK-CHILL in the following 6 simple steps:

Wash Hands and Cooking Surfaces Often

Use hot soapy water and wash for at least 20 seconds. Antibacterial moist towelettes can also be used if water is not available. Make sure that helpers at the party do the same.

Wash Fruits and Vegetables Thoroughly

Rinse and rub all produce under running tap water before packing them into the cooler. This includes those with skins and rinds not eaten. Dry with a clean cloth or paper towel. Packaged fruits and vegetables labeled “ready-to-eat” or “washed” need not be washed.

Keep Raw Foods Separate From Ready-to-Eat Foods

One of the most common ways that food-borne illness occurs is through “cross contamination”. This is when bacteria are transferred from one food to another…handling raw chicken then immediately handling lettuce. Also, use separate cutting boards for raw foods, wash utensils immediately after coming in contact with raw foods, and never serve cooked foods on plates that held raw food.

Keep Cold Foods cold and Hot Foods Hot

Keeping foods at proper temperatures is important in preventing the growth of food-borne bacteria. Avoid letting your food enter the “Danger Zone” – between 40⁰ F and 140⁰ F – for more than 2 hours, or 1 hour if the outdoor temperature is above 90⁰ F. Bacteria multiply rapidly in this zone and can cause illness. Cold foods should be kept in a cooler at or below 40⁰ F until serving or placed directly on ice. Hot foods should be wrapped well and kept in an insulated container until serving.

Cook Foods to Proper Temperatures

When it’s time to cook the food, have your food thermometer ready. Cook your food to the following safe food temperatures: steaks, roasts, fish-145⁰ F; pork, ground beef, egg dishes-160⁰ F; chicken breasts and hot dogs-165⁰ F.

Refrigerate Leftovers Promptly

Any food left out longer than 2 hours, throw it away to be safe.