Food safety is a hot topic for those sweltering summer BBQ’s, cookouts and picnics. Follow these food safety tips to keep your family and friends free of foodborne disease.
Summer food safety tips
1. Preparation is key
While preparing for your BBQ or picnic make sure you have the proper equipment. You want to have a few different coolers along with plenty of ice (block ice is best because it melts slower). Place serving utensils with each item and have plenty of plates and napkins available so your guests don’t use their hands (touching food can transmit bacteria). Bring hand sanitizer and make sure everyone washes their hands before they eat.
2. Prevent cross-contamination
When packing the cooler, wrap each food item securely and separately. You don’t want meat touching cheese or raw food coming in contact with cooked foods or produce. And when cooking, use separate plates and utensils for raw and cooked foods.
3. Keep cold food cold
One of the biggest culprits of foodborne bacteria is perishable food that becomes warm. Keep dishes containing mayonnaise, eggs, cheese, meats, or fish in the refrigerator or cold on ice until ready to serve. To keep food cold while serving, you can place bowls filled with the food in larger bowls that are filled with ice. Also, when transporting the food, keep it in the air-conditioned car instead of the hot trunk.
4. Keep food covered
While you are eating, keep food that is out on the table covered. This will keep bugs or debris from contaminating it.
5. Wash all produce
Produce that has not been properly washed can cause a foodborne illness. Wash all produce; even produce that has a peel or skin that you can remove. Before you pack washed produce, be sure to pat it dry thoroughly. Moisture is a host for bacteria.
6. Cook food well done
To minimize foodborne illness from meats, cook them medium well to well done. To be extra safe, use a meat thermometer to check doneness.
7. Leave the leftovers
Discard any cold food that has been in the heat for more than two hours, even if doesn’t feel particularly warm. Additionally, hot foods that have been left out for two hours should also be tossed.