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SafeFood© in the Summer

The time of year those of us in cold weather climates long for is here! Summertime! Fire up the grill and plan a picnic. It is up to SafeFood© Advocates to remain alert to any breeches in food safety. What are some common problems? You may have your own list but here is my top five of “people not being food safe”:

  1. Not using a thermometer to check that meats are cooked or not using it properly. Insert the thermometer into the center of the thickest part of meat. People, these cost less than $10 – Isn’t your health worth it?
  2. Using the same plate to hold raw and cooked meats. An easy fix is to simply place raw meats on sheet of wax paper when carrying out to the grill.
  3. Setting out picnic or potluck foods early. Bring cold foods in a cooler (of course) and don’t put out until ready to serve. Another option is to put the serving bowl of pasta salad in a bowl with ice, or invest in dual layer bowls that can keep in freezer until ready to use. These cost about $20 but are a good investment. I see more attention paid to keeping beverages cold than to food – and it is unlikely a warm soda will make you sick!
  4. Foods left uncovered – I don’t like flies to sample the picnic before I do! Keep foods covered. This keeps out other contaminants as well.
  5. Lack of hand hygiene – and then using hands to touch foods others will eat! Bring extra serving utensils and hand wipes (not a substitute for handwashing but better than nothing!)

A little preventative action will keep you and your grill time buddies safe!
Cost – Less than $50 for many summers of fun. Value of not having a food borne illness – priceless!



Catherine Hemphill Strohbehn has been a faculty member at Iowa State University in the Hospitality Management Program for 30 years. She is a State Specialist with Human Sciences Extension and Outreach at Iowa State University. As part of her work, she conducts research, develops educational materials and provides programs to help retail foodservices use their resources effectively and ensure safe food is served. Cathy is a registered dietitian with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a Certified Professional in Food Safety from the National Environmental Health Association.

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