Craig Hedberg of the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health says that while it’s a pleasure to eat outside, the risks for contracting food-borne illnesses are higher when you prepare and serve a meal out of doors.
Often people skip the crucial step of washing one’s hands when eating outside because running water isn’t readily available. But going out of your way to wash your hands will go a long way toward reducing the risk of tainting food with harmful, says Hedberg.
Improper handling raw meat and poultry is a huge culprit in causing food poisoning. Make sure that raw meat and poultry, or their juices, don’t come in contact with any raw foods that are on the menu. It’s also important to not re-contaminate the cooked meat or poultry by putting it back on the dish that held it when it was raw. Bacteria could still be living there.
To get rid of dangerous bacteria, thoroughly cooking meat and poultry is imperative. To tell if food is done, use a food thermometer that reads the meat or poultry’s internal temperature. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that chicken breasts be cooked to 170 degrees, hamburgers to 160 degrees, and steaks to 145 degrees. People who are concerned about hamburgers should consider using irradiated meat. The treatment process kills most dangerous bacteria, reducing the likelihood that they will cause anyone to become ill.
Protect salads by thoroughly washing fresh fruits and vegetables under running water to remove all dirt and visible contamination. Cut away bruised or damaged parts, which are great spots for bacteria to thrive. Once produce has been cleaned and cut up, keep it cool until it is ready to be served. Even fresh fruit and veggies can grow harmful bacteria like salmonella when sitting outdoors in warm temperatures.
While many people think of mayonnaise as a primary culprit for causing food poisoning, this reputation is not deserved. These days, people don’t make their own mayonnaise, instead using a store-bought product made with pasteurized eggs and an acid, like vinegar, and while this keeps unsafe bacteria at bay, it’s still important to keep dishes made with mayo cold.
To make sure your summer gatherings stay fun, Hedberg says, follow this rule of thumb: keep your cold foods cold and your hot foods hot, and your guests will go away happy and healthy.