June 17, 2024

Memorial Day Food Safety Tips From USDA to Stay Safe

These Memorial Day food safety tips from the USDA will help you and your family stay safe this summer. Summer cooking and parties are prime time for possible food poisoning cases for several reasons. Warmer temperatures and outdoor picnics, parties, and grilling pose special challenges.

Memorial Day Food Safety Tips From USDA to Stay Safe

Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Emilio Esteban said in a statement, “The bacteria that cause foodborne illness love the summertime as much as we do because they thrive and multiply quickly in warmer temperatures. This causes illnesses to spike during the summer. As we all spend more time outside, it is important to remember these food safety steps to keep your friends and family safe.”

First, always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before you start cooking and eating. If safe running water isn’t available, use hand sanitizer or moist towelettes that are made with at least 60% alcohol.

If you are traveling to a picnic or the beach, make sure you pack food safely. Use insulated containers and coolers to keep food out of the danger range of 40°F to 140°F. You can use ice, frozen gel packs, and frozen beverages that don’t require refrigeration to keep the food cold.

Pack beverages in one cooler and perishable food in another cooler. The cooler with beverages will be opened more frequently, so to keep food cold, separate them from meats, salads, cheeses, side dishes, and desserts. Keep these coolers out of the sun. And remember that full coolers or insulated bags will keep perishable foods safe longer than half-full containers.

Cold foods must be kept at 40°F or below. Use ice, or the coolers to keep them cold. Hot foods must be kept over 140°F. Use slow cookers or warming trays to keep them hot. And follow the two hours rule. Perishable foods can’t sit out at room temperature for more than two hours. If the ambient air temperature is above 90°F, that time shrinks to one hour.

And remember that you can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854 from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm Eastern time, Monday through Friday, with any questions.

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