Potlucks and family events are a fun reason to get outdoors in the warm weather. However, you need to take extra care to keep food safe from foodborne illness. Foodborne illnesses increase during the summer months because bacteria multiply faster with warm temperatures. Read the three simple food safety guidelines below to protect yourself, your family, and your friends from foodborne illness.
- Clean. Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food, touching pets, and using the restroom. After prepping each item, wash and sanitize cutting boards, utensils, and dishes. Rinse fruits and vegetables under running tap water and scrub firm produce with a clean produce brush.
- Separate. Never place cooked food on a dish that previously held raw poultry, meat, seafood, or eggs. Bacteria can spread from raw juices to cooked or ready-to-eat food. Instead, use one cutting board for fresh produce and another for raw food items.
- Cook. Pack a food thermometer to ensure the safety of meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. These food items must be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy any harmful bacteria that could cause foodborne illnesses. Use a food thermometer to test for doneness:
US Food and Drug Administration, www.fda.gov
ISU Extension and Outreach – Words on Wellness, go.iastate.edu/IFSNX3
When cooking and serving meals outdoors, remember to make food safety part of your planning. Keep these two guidelines in mind:
- Don’t Cross Contaminate
- When marinating food for grilling, refrigerate during the marinade process.
- Keep your raw fish, meat, and poultry away from any cooked or ready-to-eat foods.
- Have a clean plate to carry food to and from the grill.
- Wash and sanitize all surfaces and utensils after they have been in contact with raw fish, meat, or poultry.
- Be sure to have an extra clean utensil to remove cooked food from the grill.
2. Use a Food Thermometer
Experienced cooks may think they know when food is done just by looking at it, but this may not be the case. Burgers can turn brown before they are fully cooked. Germs that cause foodborne illness are not killed until a safe internal temperature is reached. This is where a food thermometer comes in. Using a food thermometer is the only way to know your food is done and safe to eat.
Use a thermometer to test for doneness:
- Steaks, chops—145°F
- Ground meat—160°F
Using a food thermometer ensures food is cooked to a safe temperature. You can’t rely on the color or texture of a food to determine if it’s safely cooked. For example, ground beef may turn brown before it reaches a temperature that kills germs. A hamburger cooked to 160°F is safe regardless of color. Use a food thermometer to make sure cold food is at or below 40°F and hot food is at or above 140°F.
Food thermometers come in a variety of types and styles. Visit the
USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, www.fsis.usda.gov, for
Source: Kitchen Thermometers, www.fsis.usda.gov