Practice food safety during the summer
The aroma of burgers on the grill. The delight of a red slice of watermelon dripping with juice. There's nothing like eating outdoors in the summer.
When you cook outdoors, you're often away from your kitchen sink, refrigerator and kitchen thermometer. Even so, cooking outdoors is no pass to forgo food safety. After all, no one wants to get sick from foodborne illnesses.
You can make your gathering safe by following these tips when packing your cooler:
- Keep cold food cold by using ice or frozen gel packs. Aim to keep coolers at 40°F or colder to prevent bacterial growth, and consider packing meats, poultry and seafood into coolers while still frozen.
- Organize, putting beverages in one cooler and perishables in another, so as guests reopen the beverage cooler to replenish drinks, perishable foods aren't exposed to warm air.
- Limit the number of times perishable food coolers are opened. Replenish ice as needed.
All year, food safety starts with clean hands, utensils and platters. For summer picnics and other outdoor meals, follow these steps:
- Always wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food. No access to running water at a park? Use a water jug, soap and towel. Or use moist disposable wipes.
- Clean all picnic tables and other setting surfaces before you set out foods and utensils.
Remember foodborne illness is no laughing matter. Each year, roughly one of every six Americans gets sick from foodborne illnesses. That's 48 million cases that are completely preventable.