Food Safety while celebrating the achievements of 2021 graduates:
Whether graduating looks like watching the remote services on an iPad or computer in the living room (in this era of COVID), or walking across the stage followed by get togethers at various homes (hopefully practicing social distancing), Americans have entered the season of graduation parties – remote or otherwise. Along with parties comes the higher risk of foodborne illnesses. However, while the danger level of food poisoning increases significantly at large parties, a few helpful food safety tips can easily prevent chances of bacteria growth.
- Keep cold foods cold, and hot foods hot
When food is kept between the degrees 41-135 Fahrenheit, bacteria grows rapidly. This is known as the “danger zone”. Never leave food at room temperature for more than two hours, and if the temperature reaches over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, avoid allowing it to sit for over one hour.
- Cook meat to correct internal temperatures
Roasting hot dogs and grilling hamburgers, or barbeque on the grill, are common at graduation parties. Yet cooking any meat poses a noteworthy risk due to how easy it is to undercooked meat in these fast-paced settings where there are so many mouths to feed and regulating temperatures on grills is difficult. The key, and something many people skip while relying on what they “see,” is an internal meat thermometer. A meat thermometer is a must, and using it while following the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) chart of safe minimal internal temperatures is essential.
As the Michigan State University Extension stated regarding safe graduation party food and the correlation with safe meat internal temperatures, “make sure to supply the grill-master with a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of meat products before serving. While cooking until the “juices run clear” is still a common practice, it is not a safe way to know that each type of meat has reached a temperature that will kill bacteria.”
Using caution and doing research on correct internal temperatures for various meats will significantly decrease the chance of foodborne illness due to the afore-mentioned dish.
- Offer access to handwashing
An oft overseen need at a party is hand-washing facilities. Hosts can encourage food safety by offering various stations for handwashing and by reminding individuals of the importance of clean hands. Dirt underneath fingernails or on other areas of the hand are a common way to unknowingly spread bacteria and cause food poisoning. Cross contamination is even worse when the hands touch multiple foods, such as someone helping serve or preparing plates for children.
While celebrating the academic achievements of young people in America is a tradition hat should be honored in whatever for it takes place, individuals should keep these preceding tips at the forefront of their mind. Knowing how to prevent foodborne illnesses and the spread of bacteria can prevent one of life’s milestones from becoming a trip to the hospital.