Food Safety Tips for a HOT Summer

Tips

After all the fireworks, pool parties, picnics and cook-outs last week, how many leftovers do you have in your fridge? Are you 100% positive that they’re all still safe to eat?

Outdoor events and activities are a huge part of summer fun, but you and your kids will need sustenance while exerting so much energy outside, which means you probably need to take some snacks. But it’s HOT out there, so food safety does become an issue.

Warm weather is the perfect environment for bacteria to multiply in food, especially when you’re cooking and eating away from the kitchen.

Every year about 76 million Americans get sick from eating contaminated food. While the usual result is a few hours or days of tummy troubles, some infections can be serious. About 5,000 people in the United States die each year from foodborne illness. Harmful bacteria are the most common cause.

Follow these food safety precautions to prevent such illnesses and infections:

  • Keep meat refrigerated. Uncooked meat, poultry and seafood are often loaded with bacteria. Keep all meats in the fridge or in coolers packed with ice or gel packs to keep at 40 degrees or below.
  • Kick up the heat. When grilling burgers, hotdogs, chicken, kabobs or any other summer dishes, make sure the internal temperature reaches at least 140 degrees and stays there until eaten.
  • Wash up. Spend 20 seconds washing your hands with warm, soapy water for 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat. Use clean cutting boards, utensils and dishes and wash after each food-prep task. If you can’t wash while outside, bring extra so you don’t have to reuse.
  • Buy the best fruits and veggies. Fresh produce abounds this time of year, but look for unblemished fruits and vegetables, and keep perishables refrigerated. To reduce bacteria, rinse under running water and cut away any areas that are damaged or bruised.
  • Don’t hang out too long. Don’t let food sit out for more than two hours. Cut that time in half if the air temperature is more than 90 degrees. Think back to the Fourth of July. Did your picnic grub stay out that long?

If you want to test your food safety knowledge, click here to take an 8-question, true or false quiz.

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