Summertime Food Safety Tips

Picnics. Barbecues. Camping. Three sure signs of summer that bring us the promise of delicious food and unfortunately an increased potential for food poisoning. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one in six Americans is stricken with food poisoning each year and reports of food poisoning jump during the summer.

But don’t let these stats put a damper on your plans – food safety guidelines are easy to follow with a little extra attention and planning.

Keep Perishable Items Cold

  • Use an insulated cooler filled with ice or frozen gel packs. Frozen food can also be used as a cold source.
  • Foods that need to be kept cold include raw meat, poultry, and seafood; deli and luncheon meats or sandwiches; tuna, chicken, egg, pasta, and seafood salad; cut up fruit and vegetables; and perishable dairy products.
  • A full cooler maintains its cold temperature longer than a partially filled one.
  • Keep coolers in the shade or shelter and out of direct sunlight.
  • Avoid opening the cooler repeatedly so that your food stays colder longer.
  • Keep perishable food cold until it is ready to cook.
  • Perishable food should not sit out for more than two hours. In hot weather (above 90 degrees Fahrenheit), food should never sit out for more than one hour.
  • Serve cold food in small portions, and keep the rest in the cooler.

Thoroughly Wash Fruits and Veggies

  • Wash all fruits and vegetables under running water, even if you plan to peel.

Cook Meats to Temperature

  • Use a food thermometer to make sure meat and poultry are cooked thoroughly to their safe minimum internal temperatures:
    • Beef, Pork, and Lamb: 145 degrees Fahrenheit with a three-minute rest time.
    • Ground meats: 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • Chicken: 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Keep hot food hot by setting it to the side of the grill rack, not directly over the coals where they could overcook.

Avoid Cross Contamination

  • Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meat and ready-to-eat items such as vegetables or bread.
  • Always use a fresh, clean plate and tongs for serving cooked food. Never reuse items that touched raw meat or poultry to serve the food once it is cooked.
  • Wash hands and surfaces often.