Keeping Safe While Cooking Out
When preparing food out of doors, such as having a picnic or grilling out, there are some important things to keep in mind, in order to keep your food safe from harmful germs that can cause food poisoning. Symptoms of food poisoning usually include diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps and nausea. Most people who experience food poisoning are able to recover without medical treatment, however, ederly people, infants, pregnant women, and other people with weakened immune systems can develop life-threatening complications as a result of the illness. According to the CDC, the number of cases of food poisoning are higher in the summer months because bacteria thrive in warmer temperatures.
There are four simple steps you can take to protect your food while cooking out during the hot summer months: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill.
- Wash your hands, utensils, and surfaces (like the grill) before handling any food
- Wash your hands with soap and hot water after handling any raw meat, poultry, or seafood
- Wash any fruits or veggies that will be eaten raw with soap and water
- Pack your cooler so as to keep foods that will be eaten raw (like lettuce) separate from foods that need to be cooked (like meat)
- Use separate utensils and surfaces to prepare raw foods from ready-to-eat foods
- Use a cooking thermometer to ensure that your food is cooked to the necessary internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria. You cannot accurately determine that meat is fully cooked by observing the color or texture. You must use a cooking thermometer and the temperature guide to be sure.
- For ground meats, like beef and pork, the internal temperature must reach 160°F
- For poultry, including ground chicken and turkey, the internal temperature must reach 165°F
- Since bacteria can multiply between 40°F and 140°F it is important to make sure that your refrigerator or cooler is at or below 40°F.
- Perishable food should never be left out of the fridge for more than 2 hours (or 1 hour if it is exposed to a temperature of 90°F or above).
- Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator and not on the counter, in order to avoid the multiplication of harmful bacteria.
For more information on the best food safety practices, visit the CDC’s website.