As the weather heats up we start to consume seasonal produce or hold backyard barbeques. It’s easy to forget that as the temperature rises, so does the chance that you will get sick from contaminated foods. Bacteria thrive in warmer weather and those who cook outside frequently are more susceptible to these illnesses. Follow these tips for proper food handling as the temperatures rise:
- Stay Clean: wash your hands and surfaces often. This is the easiest way to prevent foodborne illnesses. Always wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food. Use antibacterial hand sanitizer if you are cooking outside without access to a sink. Sinse fruits and vegetables by running tap water over them. If you are going to be cooking outdoors, wash your produce before you pack your picnic basket.
- Separate Raw Food: It is hard to avoid cross-contamination during grilling season. Don’t put your cooked meat back on the same platter than the raw meat was on. Have an extra plate ready for your cooked meat. Make sure to properly wrap and seal raw meat, seafood and poultry. Place meat in a separate cooler from fruits and vegetables to avoid cross-contamination.
- Cook Food Thoroughly: Always bring a thermometer to determine whether or not your meat is cooked through. Don’t simply depend on the color of the meat.
- Keep Cold Food Cold: Use a cooler at your next picnic, not the traditional ones. This will help keep your food at a safe temperature for longer. If your food is left out or in the sun for more than 2 hours, it should be disposed of. Choose a well-insulated cooler filled with ice. Keep the cooler out of direct sunlight. This will help slow down the growth of harmful bacteria