SUMMER Food Poisoning: Tips of Food Safety
With the transition into summer, it’s important to refresh some important general food handling rules to help prevent summer food poisoning. Although it’s easy to overlook, you need to know the guidelines for how long foods can sit out before risking contamination from harmful summer food borne pathogens like Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella enteritidis, Escherichia coli O157: H7, and Campylobacter (USDA).
Foods that need to be refrigerated and cannot sit out at room temperature for over two hours include sliced tomatoes, pre-cut melons, meat, corn on the cob, eggs, and milk. Refrigeration slows the rate at which microbes grow. Microbial growth can lead to issues like food spoilage and food poisoning. Because most bacteria only grow in mild to warm temperatures, you must handle certain foods having a higher propensity to microbial contamination. Foods harboring food borne pathogens may not present any change in characteristics, making it difficult to anticipate you may be at risk of summer food borne illness!
Pathogenic bacteria grow rapidly in the “Danger Zone,” the temperature range between 40 and 140 Degrees Fahrenheit. Room temperature is about 70 degrees; whereas, most refrigerators are below 37 degrees.
Many of the Summer food borne illness-causing bacteria can double in population every twenty minutes. If you leave your platter of deviled eggs on counter your next family picnic, every moment food borne pathogens are rapidly proliferating and could reach an amount capable of making you ill.
Remember, if you are either serving hot food or cooling down your leftovers, minimize the amount of time the food spends in the danger zone. This means not letting your hot food be held at a warm temperature for over two hours. To prevent summer food borne illness, do not leave food out in the heat for too long either.