Summer time is the time for grilling, cookouts, and barbecues! But as the summer temperatures rise so does your risk of foodborne illness. The following can help keep your friends and family safe.
Safe food handling begins at the grocery store. Select your cold foods last when shopping. Place raw meats and poultry in plastic bags to prevent cross contamination from juices. Separate raw meat and poultry from other foods in the cart. Once you are checked out and loaded up head directly home. Perishable foods should be refrigerated within an hour when temperatures are 90° or above.
When preparing food for a cookout you want to keep all cold food cold until you are ready to cook it. Thaw and marinate any meat or poultry in the refrigerator. Do not reuse an marinade that was used on raw foods as it could have harmful bacteria in it. Have extra marinade on hand if you would like to use it as a sauce on cooked foods.
Raw meat and poultry have harmful bacteria that can contaminate cooked foods if platters or utensils are reused with out washing first. Therefore, have plenty of clean utensils and platters on hand for cooked foods. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of cooked foods to guarantee that food is cooked thoroughly.
During your cookout be sure to keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses grow best between 40° and 140°, called the temperature “danger zone.” Cold foods should be kept at 40° or lower until serving. Once cold food is served, put it away within an hour or discard it. Hot foods that have been cooked should be kept at 140° or above until serving. Just like cold foods, once it is served, put it away within an hour or discard it.