5 Tips for Summer Food Safety

Don't get sick during your summer fun because you didn't follow these food safety tips (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

Don’t get sick during your summer fun because you didn’t follow these food safety tips (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

Summer is here and one of the top concerns has to be keeping families safe from food borne illness.   Summer means backyard barbecues, block parties, hiking trips, picnics, and all kinds of fun time spent outside.  But all that fun is often accompanied by food sets the stage for food borne illness to steal the show.  Make sure your family is safe this summer by following these easy food safety tips.

Get a Thermometer for the Grill

Much of the time when we are talking about food safety related to the summer months, we are talking about the dangers of letting cold food get too warm.  But it can also be dangerous if hot food doesn’t get hot enough, especially when you are cooking on the grill.  Get a good food thermometer to go with your grill equipment and always check the temperature to make sure the food you are cooking is safe to consume.

Keep Things Separated

Take steps to ensure that raw food and cooked food are kept separate at all times.  This means never reusing the plate you brought the raw hamburgers or chicken out on as the serving dish for the cooked meat.  It means having separate sets of thongs and other utensils so that there is no risk of contaminating food once it has been cooked.

Don’t Defrost Meat at Room Temperature

It can be very tempting to use all that summer sunshine to help defrost your meat for dinner more quickly but if you don’t defrost meat properly, you risk making it unsafe to eat.  The only safe way to defrost meat is to put it in the refrigerator a day or two before you plan to use it.

Wash Fruits, Veggies, and Greens…if They Need It

Most of the produce you bring into your home will need to be washed prior to being used and remembering to do this helps protect your family from food borne illness that can be lurking on the surface.  Make sure you do this, even if it is something you are going to peel before using like an apple or a melon, as those illness-causing microorganisms can be transferred from the skin to the flesh when you peel them or cut into them with a knife.  The one exception is the ready-to-eat leafy greens that come in plastic tubs or bags from the grocery store.  These have been pre-washed and you are better off not washing them as you are more likely to introduce a contaminant than to gain any benefit.

If you don’t have any fancy fruit wash, simply soaking the fruit in vinegar for a short time will accomplish the same goal.

Keep Cold Cold and Hot Hot

This is the most common tip to help you avoid food borne illness and it simply means that if something is served cold it needs to stay cold and if it is served hot it need to stay hot.  Using small serving bowls placed in larger bowls of ice is one way to accomplish this.  You can also serve foods that need to be kept cold out of a cooler.

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