Planning a summer picnic or barbecue? Bacteria multiplies rapidly at warm temperatures, so the U. S. Food and Drug Administration has compiled some food safety tips to help people avoid food poisoning during the summer months.
Consumers need to be aware of the food “Danger Zone” when temperatures are between 40 and 140 ˚F and perishable food spoils rapidly, said Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Al Almanza. “Foods that should be served hot or cold should not spend more than one hour in the Danger Zone when temperatures are above 90 ˚F, and two hours when temperatures are below 90 ˚F.”
Bacteria can double in number in as little as 20 minutes when perishable food is kept at temperatures in the Danger Zone. To reduce risk, keep cold food, at or below 40 °F, in the refrigerator, in coolers, or in containers on ice. Use a thermometer to make sure of the temperature, and limit the time coolers or doors are open. And don’t leave coolers in direct sunlight.
Before cooking and after handling foods, wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If you will be away from a kitchen, pack clean cloths and moist towelettes for cleaning surfaces and hands.
Never put cooked food on the same platter that held raw meat or poultry. And refrigerate leftovers as quickly was possible. Any food left in the Danger Zone too long should be thrown out. Finally, advises the USDA, when in doubt, throw it out.