As the graduation celebrations die down with the end of May, summer festivities are just around the corner! Known to be the top picnic and grilling days of the year, holidays such as Memorial Day and the Fourth of July can turn into food poisoning fests if consumers fail to take the proper precautions. According to one National Food Poisoning Lawyer, Dr. Tony Coveny, “…following a few simple food safety steps can go a long way when avoiding food poisoning this summer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other official food safety organizations have shared key information regarding safe meat temperatures, standard cleaning practices, food preparation guidelines, and storage rules that should be put into practice at the next picnic, pool party or grilling party.”
The following tips can likely be applied to any type of meal, whether it be family dinner or a catered meal, but are particularly relevant to the summer holidays.
Keep foods at the safe temperature
Oftentimes, foods at an outdoor party can be left sitting on a picnic table for hours, losing the original temperature rapidly. The zone between the temperatures 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees Fahrenheit are a safe haven for bacteria to rapidly reproduce on food. Perishable foods such as eggs, meat, turkey, chicken, seafood, cut fruit and cooked rice should be packaged and in a refrigerator within 2 hours.
Separate raw foods
When handling foods such as raw chicken, beef, or uncooked vegetables, it is vital to separate them and avoid cross-contamination, which can occur from raw juices leaking onto other foods, or from using the same knife to slice a chicken breast and a head of broccoli.
Cook meat to safe temperatures
Grilling can be a tricky way to cook meat; knowing when it’s fully cooked isn’t always obvious. However, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shared recommended cook-to temperatures for every meat, including the information that meats should be kept to the temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit, post-grilling, or warmer until served. The recommended temperatures are as listed:
- 145°F—whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and veal (then allow the meat to rest for 3 minutes before carving or eating)
- 145°F—fish (or cook until the flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork)
- 160°F—hamburgers and other ground beef
- 165°F—all poultry and pre-cooked meats, like hot dogs
Follow standard hygiene
While it may seem the most obvious, standard hygiene practices can often be forgotten in the midst of a busy party- which is likely to result in shared bacteria, contamination and food poisoning. As a server or cook, washing one’s hands is an absolute must to keep the environment clean and sanitary. Scrubbing hands with hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds should occur before, after and during prepping food, after petting animals or changing a diaper, and of course post sneezing, coughing or blowing one’s nose.
To avoid a case of food poisoning after a cookout, pool bash or grill day, Americans should follow the above-listed food safety tips. Following these precautions can help keep this summer peaceful and less stressful.