Summer food safety tips

As the temperature rises so does our excitement over picnics and grilling. Unfortunately, the number of foodborne illnesses rise too. Most people know to keep potato salad cold. But beyond that, are you thinking about food safety? Consider the following food for thought as you plan your summer outings and events.

• Check the forecast. Refrigerate perishable food within two hours — that time drops to one hour when the temperature is above 90 F (32 C). Serve, eat and get food back in the cooler.

• Come clean. If your picnic spot doesn't have clean running water, bring some with you. Bring wipes or sanitizing gel for surfaces and hands. Wash hands before food prep and after handling raw meats.

• Keep your cool. Use an insulated cooler with ice, ice packs or partially frozen items to keep food at 40 F (4 C) or cooler.

• Pack smart. Keep separate coolers for food and beverages. Chances are people will be in and out of the beverage cooler, which lets cold air escape. To keep food as cold as possible, keep that cooler closed until you're ready to cook. Pack meat in plastic and put it on the bottom of the cooler to prevent it from leaking on other foods. Pack two platters — one for raw meat and one for cooked meat.

• Use a thermometer. Don't rely on the color of meat to judge when it's cooked enough. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature. Safe minimum temperatures are:

165 F (74 C) for any type of poultry
160 F (71 C) for ground meat other than poultry
145 F (63 C) for solid cuts, such as steaks, of meat or fish

Adapted from

Photos: Wikimedia Commons