Summer’s here and for many that means outdoor cooking season is well underway – barbecues, picnics and more are in full swing! It’s a great time to relax, enjoy the outdoors, and spend time with loved ones. However, it’s also a time when foodborne illnesses can become even more prevalent. Check out these simple food safety tips to keep yourself and your loved ones safe – not just this summer, but all year long.
· Clean: Everything! Well, that is if it is or comes into contact with, food… Sing “Happy Birthday” twice while washing your hands with soap and water (that’s a minimum of 20 seconds), while working with and before eating food. Make sure that similarly, you’re cleaning your utensils, cutting boards and other surfaces that will come into contact with food as you work. Don’t forget to rinse your fresh fruits and veggies, too!
· Steer clear of cross-contamination: This starts from the moment you pick up your groceries, until everything is safely cooked/ready-to-eat. Raw meats and eggs that need to be cooked before consuming need to be kept separate from ready-to-eat foods, such as salads. Even better? Utilize a different cutting board for things like raw meats, as opposed to things like fruits and veggies. Tip: Try getting different colors of cutting boards to make that easier – “my red cutting board(s) is only for cutting raw meats, poultry, and seafood” and “my green cutting board(s) is for chopping fruits and veggies.”
· Cook: Utilizing a food thermometer is a crucial step to take toward warding off any foodborne illnesses. It’s also the only way to make sure that your food is safely cooked for you and your loved ones. Though different foods have different recommended internal temperatures that they should be cooked to before consuming, a good general rule of thumb is to make sure the thermometer reads at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Tip: Make sure to angle your thermometer when using it, so that you’re actually measuring the internal temperature of your food – and not the dish or pan that it’s being cooked in!
· Chill: Bacteria can grow rapidly if food is left out too long. Make sure to refrigerate perishable foods within two hours after cooking them. If you’re enjoying an outdoor picnic or family barbecue and those perishable foods are left out in hotter temperatures, that timeline drops to just one hour before you need to get it refrigerated. Tip: If your foods are still pretty toasty, try dividing them into shallower containers in order to speed up the cooling process, before popping them into the refrigerator.