Summer is the perfect time to enjoy picnics, hikes, festivals, parties and other outdoor activities. Whether you're hosting or attending an event, practice these food safety tips to avoid getting sick or spreading food-borne illnesses.
Tip 1: Wash your hands. Before you cook or eat anything, make sure to wash your hands with soap and warm water. If water and soap are unavailable, use hand sanitizer or disposable wipes then wash your hands when resources are available. Doing so can eliminate germs and prevent cross-contamination.
If you're preparing and serving food for others, wear a mask and use gloves to limit the spread of bacteria or possible contagious illnesses. Of course, if you aren't feeling well, leave the food preparation to others and stay home.
Tip 2: Keep food at its designated temperature. Whether you're grilling meat or serving fresh salads, keep food at the appropriate temperature. A popular phrase for this is "keep hot food hot and cold food cold." As temperatures fluctuate, bacteria can spawn and grow rapidly. Some other food-safety suggestions for cooking/grilling include:
- Thaw meat in the fridge and not on a counter.
- Throw away any marinades that were used for meat and don't reuse them.
- As meat finishes cooking, make sure to pull it off the grill or stove-top with a clean utensil, and place it on a clean plate or tray.
- Don't share utensils between raw food and cooked food.
Put cooked food away soon after eating. Don't leave leftovers out for more than an hour. If you're at an event or party that's serving food, keep an eye out for properly heated (or chilled) food and make choices to protect your health.
Tip 3: Separate foods. When prepping meat, keep it away from vegetables, fruits and other foods. This includes using different cutting boards, knives, plates and trays. Wash countertops with anti-bacterial spray and utensils with warm soap and water (or in the dishwasher).
While these might seem like simple suggestions, they can be life-saving and protect you from easily preventable illnesses. The CDC estimates that approximately 48 million people suffer from food-borne illnesses every year, and 3,000 individuals pass away. Practice these food safety tips to keep you and your loved ones safe.
This article first appeared in the July/August 2022 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.