Summer Food Fun: Keeping Food Safe and Your Health In Mind
Food safety is important year-round, and so we’re back with a few more summer time food safety tips to ensure you have a safe AND enjoyable outdoor eating experience, whether that’s at a picnic, the beach, or your backyard. Check out the blog on summer food fun and safety.
Preparing and eating meals outdoors is a staple in the summertime as it brings friends and family together for delicious meals. While it's an enjoyable activity, it's essential to prioritize food safety to prevent any potential risks. Here are a few simple tips for making the most of your outdoor meals.
Keep Hot Foods Hot and Cold Foods Cold:
Most harmful germs live between 40 and 140°F, aka the temperature danger zone. *Note the temperature danger zone includes room temperature. When preparing foods, keep them out of this temperature range. An excellent way to do this is by noting their holding temperatures. Hot foods should be kept at 140°F or higher, and cold foods should be held at 40°F or lower. If potentially hazardous foods have been outside their safe range for four hours or more, they should be thrown out immediately. Potentially hazardous foods include dairy products, beef, poultry, eggs, shellfish pork, cooked rice and beans, and cut vegetables and fruits (i.e., lettuce, tomatoes, cantaloupe, and bean sprouts). Keep this in mind with mixed foods, like potato salads or coleslaws as well. When in doubt, use a food thermometer to verify temperatures.
Choose Quality Ingredients:
When grilling, start with fresh and high-quality ingredients. Ensure that meat, poultry, and seafood are purchased from reliable sources, like Azuluna Foods or your local farmer’s market, and stored correctly before use. Always check the expiration dates and discard any spoiled or questionable items.
Before handling any food, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This simple step helps eliminate bacteria and prevents cross-contamination. Additionally, make sure your grilling utensils, cutting boards, and surfaces are clean and sanitized to avoid any harmful bacteria transfer.
If you're using frozen meat, thaw it safely before grilling. The best practice is to thaw meat in the refrigerator to prevent the growth of bacteria. If you're short on time, run cold water over your frozen meat in the sick in its packaging.
Separate to Avoid Cross-Contamination:
Cross-contamination is a common cause of foodborne illness. It occurs when bacteria from raw meat, poultry, or seafood spread to ready-to-eat foods or other surfaces. Use separate cutting boards, plates, and utensils for raw and cooked foods. Never reuse the same container or utensils that touched raw meat without washing them.
Proper cooking temperatures are crucial to kill any harmful bacteria present in raw meat. Using a food thermometer helps ensure the internal temperature has reached safe levels. Here are a few guidelines, also featured in our Summertime Grilling blog.
- Poultry (chicken, turkey): 165°F (74°C)
- Ground meats (beef, pork, lamb): 160°F (71°C)
- Steaks, roasts, and fish: 145°F (63°C) with a 3-minute rest time
- Remember to check the thickest part of the meat to ensure it's fully cooked.
Following these easy food safety tips ensures you and your community have an enjoyable and safe outdoor eating experience.