With summer just barely beginning, its almost guaranteed that you will yourself invited to a summer barbecue or outdoor picnic. The warmer weather conditions may be ideal for some fun in the sun, but they also provide a perfect environment for bacteria and other pathogens in food to multiply rapidly and cause foodborne illness. The following tips will help you to make sure you are serving food safely, and enjoy your summer festivities without a care in the world.
For fresh foods like salads, veggies, and fruit, do your best to keep them cold! Insulated coolers with ice packs or frozen gel packs will keep food colder longer, and will prevent bacterial growth on your snacks! Once you’ve served it, it should not sit out for longer than 2 hours, or 1 hour if the outdoor temperature is above 90° F. If it does, throw it out! Not even the ripest of strawberries are worth getting sick over.
Organizing your cooler contents is also an important thing to remember. Being organized will help you to prevent cross contamination between things like meats and fresh produce. Keeping raw meats, poultry, and seafood securely wrapped and separate from the produce will keep juices from contaminating any prepared foods.
Another good idea to maintain freshness is by separating drinks from your foods. Often times, the drink cooler is opened much more often than the food coolers are – perishable foods will have a fighting chance in a separate cooler, and will ensure that you are able to serve food safely.
Of course, what’s a picnic without some good old fashioned grilling? It should go without saying, but be sure to cook your food thoroughly. To be safe, always use a food thermometer on meat and poultry products. Steaks and roasts are at a safe temp of 145 degrees, while poultry is slightly higher with a safe temperature of about 165 degrees.
Finally, to be sure you are serving food safely, make you are not using the same platter or utensils that held raw meat, poultry, or seafood allows bacteria from the raw food’s juices to spread to the cooked food. Instead, have a clean platter and utensils ready.
It has been estimated that 48 million Americans get it every year. While a scary statistic, it is completely avoidable if you know how to prevent it. Follow these simple tips for serving food safely to make sure that you and your loved ones stay safe and happy all summer long.
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