Tips for summer food safety

Refresh yourself with these food safety tips so you can enjoy a foodborne illness-free summer.

If you’re like me, you’ve spent the last few months enjoying summer. Fun summer activities like barbecuing and swimming are as popular as ever. While you are enjoying the warm kisses from the sunlight, does that ever come to your mind that those microbes could also be enjoying it in our food? According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, temperatures in the “temperature danger zone” (anywhere between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit) coupled with rich nutrients are an ideal growth environment for potential foodborne pathogens. Michigan State University Extension offers these following tips to keep you and your family safe in this summer.

Use a thermometer

A thermometer can come in handy when cooking. Why? By cooking food to a safe temperature, you can destroy foodborne pathogens growing in the food. Judging the doneness of meat by its color is not a reliable and safe method. Also, you can use the thermometer to ensure the right temperature (i.e., 250 to 300 F) for safe smoking.

Monitor leftovers

Any leftovers should be stored in a clean container, dated and promptly refridgerated. No leftovers should be left at room temperature for longer than 2 hours. If so, those leftovers should be discarded.

Keep raw food and cooked food separated

This is especially important when you are grilling. Use separate containers and utensils for raw food and cooked food. This way, you can preven cross-contamination, which will further reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

Wash hands properly

Washing hands is common sense. However, are you washing your hands properly? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hands can serve as a vehicle for the transmission of bacteria, virus and many other harmful pathogens. Following these steps to wash your hands to reduce the risk of spreading and intaking foodborne pathogens.

Wash produce thoroughly

Cleaning fresh produce under running water before prepping or eating can reduce risk of contracting harmful pathogens.

Safe thawing

Leaving meat to defrost on the countercop will facilitate the growth of foodborne pathogens and increase the risk of foodborne illness. For safer thawing, try defrosting the meat in the refrigerator, under running cold water, in the microwave or cooking without defrosting. 

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