SUMMER FOOD SAFETY!
The hot weather is the perfect time to picnic and cook outdoors, but the warm weather also creates the perfect environment to support the growth of harmful food bugs. Keep your food and family safe by following these simple tips.
1: Use a thermometer.
A thermometer is the number one tool to make sure your grilled goodies are cooked to the perfect temperature to destroy pesky pathogens. Studies show that checking the color of the food is not an accurate way to tell if your food is cooked through.
2: Monitor leftovers
Perishable food like cooked or raw meats and salads should never be left out at room temperature for over 2 hours. When the weather gets hot — above 90 degrees Fahrenheit — your window for leaving food lying out is only 1 hour. Toss any unrefrigerated food if it surpasses the time limit.
3: Do not re-use marinades
During the summer, meats and poultry are oftentimes marinated then grilled. Be sure to discard used marinade—this will prevent raw meat juices getting on your cooked food. If you plan on using the marinade as a sauce for cooked meat, reserve some before marinating the meat.
4: Separate raw and cooked foods
If you are getting ready to grill hot dogs, burgers, chicken, or steak, be sure to use one plate for the raw stuff and a separate, clean plate for the newly cooked foods. The same rule applies for tongs and other serving utensils.
5: Pack a safe picnic.
Raw meats and poultry should be packed in a separate cooler and surrounded by ice. If you have a long drive, coolers should be stored in the air-conditioned part of the car rather than in the hot trunk.
6: Defrost meats properly.
Leaving raw meat and poultry on the countertop to defrost will only allow dangerous food bugs to grow. Plan and defrost meat 1-2 days in advance in the refrigerator.
7: Wash produce thoroughly.
Wash fruit and veggies in cool tap water before eating to eliminate any bacteria. This includes washing produce like melon before you slice or peel it to make sure bacteria isn’t transferred from the knife to your fruit or veggies.
8: Wash reusable grocery store bags.
If use reusable grocery bags, it is important to wash them regularly. Studies found that harmful bacteria can linger in your totes and hitch a ride with ready-to-eat foods like produce.