Food Safety Reminders for Memorial Day Weekend
Although Memorial Day celebrations will be smaller this year, it is still just as important to protect any family or friends you might share the holiday with from foodborne illness this year. Memorial Day Weekend, as well as other holidays which are celebrated with lots of cooking, are often the most common times for food poisoning to occur. Oftentimes, the hustle and bustle of having family and friends around while cooking can cause us to forget the usual food safety precautions we would take in the kitchen. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) publishes that nearly 48 million people in the U.S. fall prey to food poisoning each year, resulting in nearly 3,000 deaths. Whether you are barbecuing outside or cooking inside, the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety Inspection Service (USDA) recommends following these four general rules while cooking, in order to prevent the spread of potentially harmful foodborne pathogens to your family and friends this holiday.
- Clean– Be sure to thoroughly wash your hands before, during, and after food preparation, as well to disinfect all utensils and surfaces before bringing food into contact with them.
- Separate-This is perhaps one of the most important safety measures to take. Be mindful when preparing raw meat not to splatter any fluid, to disinfect the area of its preparation, and finally, avoid cross-contamination by isolating the raw meat from any food which will remain uncooked, such as fresh salads or fruit.
- Cook– Be sure that all food is cooked to the proper internal temperature, in order to ensure that any bacteria is killed, by using a thermometer. People should particularly refer to the CDC’s guidelines for the proper internal temperature of different types of meat, poultry, and fish.
- Chill– While harmful bacteria can be killed by heat, it can also be killed by the cold. To prevent the growth of bacteria, be sure any leftovers are placed in the refrigerator at 40 degrees or below, within two hours of coming out of the oven.
Although following these precautions cannot completely prevent the possibility of foodborne illnesses from occurring, they will greatly decrease their likelihood, and increase the likelihood for your family to have a fun and safe Memorial Day weekend together.