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FEATURE — Don’t be confused by thinking food safety is a practice only for the kitchen. It is just as important to practice good food safety habits when eating outdoors at picnics, barbecues and neighborhood parties.
It is said that salmonella causes about 1.2 million illnesses in the United States each year. An even scarier statistic is that for every confirmed case, there are an estimated 30 unconfirmed cases.
Illnesses from salmonella spike during the summer months. To keep yourself and your family safe, follow the tips below. After all, nobody wants to be sick this summer!
Summer food safety tips
Wash away. You might get the urge to skip hand-washing when you are outdoors and without a sink. It is just as important to wash your hands when eating outside as it is when eating inside. Washing with warm water and soap for at least 2o seconds is the ideal way to wash hands. If no water is available, the CDC recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Mindfully marinate. All marinating should be done in the refrigerator to keep foods at the safe temperature zone (40-140 degrees Fahrenheit). Discard any sauce used to marinate raw meat or poultry. It isn’t safe to use the marinade as a sauce once it has touched raw meat. If you need a sauce, be sure to reserve some of the marinade before it comes in contact with any raw meat or poultry.
Be a great griller. Just like other cooking methods, you must clean, separate, cook and chill foods correctly to keep your food safe. Click here for all the information you need to become a grill master.
Hot or not? To ensure food is hot enough, insert a food thermometer into the thickest part of the food without touching fat, gristle or bone. It is good practice to test several places to ensure an even temperature throughout the whole food.
Plates o’ plenty. Although you may be tempted to save on dishes, don’t put cooked food items back on plates that once held raw food. This is called cross-contamination and permits bacteria to rest on the food you are about to serve.
To fill or not to fill? A full cooler will keep its cold temperature longer than a partially full cooler. Have plenty of extra ice or freezer packs on hand to keep the cooler full. Also, keep the cooler in the shade to prevent the direct sun from warming things up.
It is good practice to keep food items in one cooler and drinks in another. The drink cooler tends to be opened more frequently. Having two coolers keeps the food cooler from being opened too often.
Pack it up. On hot days, perishable food items should be packed up and put away before the 6o-minute mark. Once you are done eating, do a quick cleanup to store foods properly before you sit back and relax.
Be symptom savvy. Kids under the age of 4 are 4.5 times more likely to get food poisoning than adults, so it is important to keep in mind the symptoms of food poisoning. Watch for abdominal cramps and tenderness, fever and diarrhea. For tips on what to do when you suspect foodborne illness, click here.
Follow these tips and you are well on your way to a summer of food safety! While you are enjoying your summer, give buffalo chicken sliders a try. It could easily be adapted for cooking outside on the grill.
Come back and let me know how you like it. Enjoy!
Written by CANDI MERRITT, Certified Nutrition Education Ambassador.
This article originally appeared May 26, 2016 on the USU Extension Create Better Health blog.
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