Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer events like barbeques, picnics, and camping. The warmer weather and eating outdoors can bring food safety challenges. Food left at room or warmer outside temperatures can increase the chance of bacterial growth in food that can cause food poisoning. To keep the fun in your special events, follow the guidance listed below. Clean, separate, cook, and chill.
- Washing hands is the most important thing you can do to keep yourself and your family safe from food-borne illness. Wash hands before and after handling food, especially raw meat.
- If soap and water is not available bring waterless hand sanitizer for cleaning hands.
- Wash fruits and vegetables with running water before serving. Having them cut up and ready to eat in sealed containers will allow you to keep them cold longer by keeping them in the cooler until ready to serve.
- A full cooler will stay cold longer than a partially filled cooler, so fill the cooler up. Put ice or freezer packs on top and around to keep contents below 40 degrees F.
- Keep drinks in a separate cooler than food because it will be opened more often. File the drink cooler with bottled water, as it is the best way to stay hydrated on a hot day.
- Keep potato salads and pasta salads cold because the ingredients are potential bacteria producers, consider serving the on ice.
- Make sure meat is in separate sealed containers to prevent cross contamination to ready to eat foods.
- Cook meats to the proper internal temperature, using a food thermometer is the only way to know for sure.
- Only bring the amount of food that you plan to eat, otherwise leftovers need to be in cooler with ice within 2 hours. If temperature is 90 degrees or higher, food should only sit out for 1 hour.
- Throw out leftovers if you have no way to keep food cold, ice has melted etc.
By following these simple steps, you will be able to have safe, fun outdoor eating activities with family and friends.
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