According to the Partnership for Food Safety Education, there are four key elements of warm weather food safety:
- Clean- Wash your hands, cutting boards and utensils and counter tops frequently with warm, soapy water.
- Separate – Keep raw meat, poultry and seafood separate from other foods. This includes prepping them on a separate cutting board or surface. Make sure to transport raw meat, poultry and seafood to the grill on one plate and remove it and serve it on a different plate. Don’t use marinades that have had raw meat, poultry or seafood in them as a dressing after cooking; make up a separate batch.
- Cook – Use a food thermometer to gauge the correct safe, internal temperatures for cooked foods. Follow this chart from the FDA for the safe, internal cooked temperatures for meat, poultry, seafood, eggs and leftovers.
- Chill - Don’t let raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs or cut vegetables or fruits sit out unrefrigerated for more than two hours. Don’t defrost frozen meat, etc. at room temperature; plan ahead and defrost safely in your refrigerator. You can also defrost frozen foods under cold running water or in the microwave, but these should be cooked immediately after thawing.
“When in doubt, toss it out.” It’s better to discard questionable food rather than getting sick.
Enjoy all those summer picnics and BBQ’s, while keeping food safety in mind to avoid trips to the emergency room!