Northeast Colorado Health Department’s Deanna Herbert warns that most food poisoning cases happen in the summer months. Warmer weather is the perfect environment for bacteria in food to multiply rapidly so it’s very important to take those extra precautions for safe food handling during this time, especially when you’re preparing perishable foods such as meat, poultry, seafood and egg products, and salads that contain mayonnaise.
Tips that will help keep your outdoor feasts safe this summer:
- Wash your hands with hot, soapy water before and after handling food.
When shopping, buy cold food like meat and poultry last, right before you checkout.
- Defrost meat and poultry completely before grilling so it cooks more evenly. Use the refrigerator for slow, safe thawing or thaw sealed packages in cold, running water, however you may defrost in the microwave if the food will be placed immediately on the grill.
- When carrying food to another location, keep it at 40F or below to minimize bacterial growth. Use an insulated cooler with sufficient ice or ice packs to keep the food in. Pack food right from the refrigerator to the cooler immediately before leaving home. Keep the cooler in the coolest part of the car.
- Be sure there are plenty of clean utensils and platters. To prevent food borne illness, don’t use the same plate and utensils for raw and cooked meat and poultry.
- Refrigerate foods when marinating for long periods of time. Don’t use sauce that was used to marinate raw meat or poultry on cooked food. Boil used marinade before applying to cooked food.
- Use a meat thermometer to ensure that food reaches a safe internal temperature. Hamburgers should be cooked to 160 F, whole large cuts of beef such as roasts and steaks may be cooked to 145F for medium rare, or to 160F for medium. Cook ground poultry to 165F and poultry parts to 170F. Fish should be opaque and flake easily.
- Refrigerate any leftovers promptly in shallow containers. Discard any food that is left out more than two hours (one hour if the temperatures are above 90F).