Four Things to Remember When Cooking Out this Summer
Warm weather, friends, and family are a perfect scenario for a good time but unfortunately, also for food borne illnesses. The CDC published that nearly 48 million people become sick from food borne illnesses each year with a significant amount of these occurring during the summer months.
The reasons for this are that bacteria thrives in heat and most people are less careful with their food preparation when cooking out. However, the unpleasant and dangerous effects of food illnesses can easily be prevented by taking a few important precautions this summer when preparing your food out of doors.
- Avoid cross-contamination
When grilling, it is easy to cross-contaminate meats with other sides. This can be avoided by using separate utensils for each food group. It is also a good idea to have designated cutting-boards for meat, fruits, veggies, and grains
Purchase a good meat thermometer and use the minimum heat recommendations published by the CDC as follows:
145 degrees Fahrenheit for whole cuts of meat,
160 degrees Fahrenheit for ground meats
165 degrees Fahrenheit for poultry
The CDC says perishable items such as meats should not be kept out of the refrigerator for more than two hours. Furthermore, all meat should be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Keeping meat at this temperature prevents the growth of harmful bacteria, parasites, and viruses which are the cause of most food illnesses.
Finally, always be careful to sanitize whether it be the food itself, your hands, or any surfaces which your food will come in contact with. This can be done using soap and hot water, Clorox wipes, or bleach (when needed).
The majority of food borne illnesses that occur in the summer cookout setting are due to a lack of attention to these important details of prevention. If you take these precautions, following the four areas of concern, you can be confident in a happy and healthy cookout with the family and friends. For further reference, visit the FDA’s published guidelines for “Handling Food Safely While Eating Outdoors”.