July 25, 2024

If You Are Eating Outdoors This Summer, Handle Food Safely

The USDA is offering food safety tips to all Americans who are eating outdoors this summer. Picnics and barbecues are part of the fun of the season. But the risk of food poisoning increases with the air temperature. When the air temperature is above 90°F, perishable foods should not be left out of refrigeration longer than one hour, half the usual time.


When you are packing food for transport, make sure to keep cold food cold. You should always use an insulated cooler with ice or frozen gel packs for all food. Keep cold food below 40*F to prevent material growth. If you pack meat, poultry, and seafood while still frozen, they will stay cold longer.

When you pack coolers for your picnic, put beverages in one and perishable foods in another. When you open and reopen the beverage container, you won’t be exposing perishable foods to warm temperatures. Keep the coolers closed as much as possible.

Watch out for cross-contamination. Meat, poultry, and seafood should be securely wrapped so their juices won’t contaminate food that will be eaten raw.

Clean produce before you pack it. Al fresh fruits and vegetables should be rinsed under running water. Wash and scrub fruits and veggies even before you peel them. Dry them with a clean cloth towel or paper towel to remove more bacteria.

Look for picnic areas that offer clean running water and Brin along soap and paper towels. Moist towelettes can be used to clean your hands before food preparation and eating, but soap and water is better.

When you grill outdoors, be sure to follow food safety rules. Always marinate foods in the refrigerator, never on the counter or outdoors. If you want to use some of the marinade as a sauce, it’s safest to reserve some before you add raw meat, seafood, or poultry. Don’t reuse marinade.

Never partially cook meats and hold them to finish cooking later. Partial cooking before you grill is only safe when you are at home and can immediately grill the food.

Cook food thoroughly and know safe final cooking teperauters. Ground meats should always be cooked to 160°F and tested with a food thermometer. Whole cuts of beef, pork, veal, fish, and lamb should be cooked to 145°F. And all poultry products sold be cooked to 165°F.

Don’t reuse platters or utensils that come into contact with raw meat, poultry, or seafood, because that can cause cross-contamination. And check for bristles in food, because cleaning a grill with a bristle brush can leave some behind on the rack.

And remember the safe food handling steps: clean, separate, cook, and chill. Follow these rules for safe summer eating.

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