It’s mid summer, the sun is radiating, and the weather is gorgeous. For many of us, it’s the perfect time to enjoy outdoor activities that are fun and allow us to socialize with friends and family. Picnicking, barbecuing and camping personify the joys of summer. But, keeping food safe during these events can be a challenge.
Warm temperatures and cooking outdoors can increase the risk of food poisoning, so careful preparation is required. Food poisoning symptoms vary with the source of contamination. Most types of food poisoning cause one or more of the following signs and symptoms:
- Watery diarrhea
- Abdominal pain and cramps
Signs and symptoms may start within hours after eating the contaminated food, or they may begin days or even weeks later. Sickness caused by food poisoning generally lasts from a few hours to several days.
Here are some outdoor food-safety tips that will help keep you and your family safe during the summer whether your cooking at home or picnicking.
•Wash your hands for at least twenty seconds with warm soapy water before and after you handle any food.
•Equally important is to wash your hands after using the restroom, changing diapers, or touching animals.
•If you don’t have access to water, there are lots of liquid hand cleaners on the market that will work.
•Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and all surfaces with hot soapy water. These can also be sanitized with a mild bleach solution added to your sudsy water. Rinse well with clean water and let air dry.
•Don’t mix raw and cooked foods. Keep your raw eggs, meat, fish, and poultry separate.
•Use containers or resealable plastic bags to help prevent leakage.
•Place raw foods on the bottom shelf of the fridge or in the bottom of the cooler to prevent their juices from dripping on to other foods.
•Never put cooked food on an unwashed plate that had raw food on it.
•Use one cutting board for raw meat, fish, or poultry and another board for fruits and veggies.
•Consider precooking your foods beforehand.
•If you’re going to cook food at an event, make sure it’s cooked at the right internal temperature to ensure any bacteria is destroyed.
•Use a clean food thermometer to check and confirm temperatures of food.
•Cook hamburger and chicken to an internal temperature of 74 C (165 F), or until the inside of the meat is no longer pink and the juices run clear.
•Meat must be cooked thoroughly.
•Never partially cook meats and then finish cooking them later.
•Do not re-use marinade after it has had contact with raw meat unless it is boiled separately before re-use.
•Thaw and marinate all foods in the fridge.
•Refrigerate foods quickly after cooking.
•Don’t leave food at room temperature for more than one hour on hot summer days.
•Keep a cooler filled with ice, and in the shade to store foods.
•Keep foods out of danger zone of 4 C to 60 C (40 F to 140 F). Harmful bacteria can grow in as little as two hours in this temperature range.
Be sure to bring other essentials like paper towels, paper plates, garbage bags, and containers for leftovers. Following these simple rules will keep you and your family happy and worry free during your summer events.