May 24, 2019

If You’re Eating Outdoors, Learn How to Handle Food Safely

If you’re eating outdoors this summer, learn how to handle food safely with tips from the FDA. Bacteria thrive and grow quickly in warm summer temperatures.

Grilling Eating Outdoors

First, pack food safely and make sure that you always transport it in a cooler that is packed with freezer packs. Keep cold food cold; it should always be stored at 40°F or below to prevent pathogenic bacterial growth. You can pack meat, poultry and seafood frozen so those products stay colder longer.

Pack beverages in one cooler and perishable foods, such as meats, poultry, and egg products, in another. The beverage cooler is opened more often, exposing those products to warmer air. Keep the coolers that contain perishable foods closed.

Make sure you don’t cross-contaminate raw foods such as vegetables with raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Wrap the meat products so their juices don’t drip onto fruits and veggies.

Before you start to eat, or cook for your picnic, make sure that your hands are clean. Keep utensils and platters clean while you are preparing food.

When grilling, always use a food thermometer and know the correct safe final internal temperatures of foods. Ground beef, pork, veal, and lamb should be cooked to 160°F. Ground turkey and chicken, as well as all poultry, to 165°F. Eggs should be cooked to 160°F. Fresh ham should be cooked to 160°F; pre-cooked to 140°F. All seafood should be cooked to 145°F, and leftovers heated to 165°F.

Never partially cook meat and hold it to be cooked later. And keep food that has been cooked hot. Keep grilled food hot by moving it to the side of the grill rack until it is served.

Don’t reuse platters or utensils. Using the same platter to hold food that previously held raw food causes cross-contamination. Wash the thermometer probe before using it again.

Don’t let perishable food sit out of refrigeration longer than 2 hours; 1 hour if the temperature is above 90°F. Remember that a cooler can’t cool food down; it can only maintain a cool temperature. Throw away perishable leftovers if you are eating outdoors and can’t get the food into a fridge within two hours.

Finally remember the key words Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill. Wash hands and surfaces often; separate raw meats from other foods; cook food to a safe temperature, and chill it quickly after you are done eating.

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