Summertime is about warm weather, water sports, picnics and outdoor grilling. Barbecuing is as synonymous with summertime as sunshine. But, combining warm weather and food preparation can be a recipe for disaster if you neglect safety.
Food-borne illnesses can be contracted when picnic foods and grilled meats are ill prepared. Mishandling foods can cause chemicals and germs to be ingested and sickness to rear its ugly head. In order to sidestep serious problems that ruin your summer fun, pay attention to these food safety tips.
Avoid Cross Contamination
Bacteria can easily be transferred from one place to another. The common culprit is transference from uncooked meat to the hands or eating utensils. There are simple ways to avoid cross contamination.
Keep your preparation area clean, wash your hands and sterilize your utensils. Avoid using the knife you cut the raw chicken with to slice a tomato. Be sure that your utensils are clean by using antibacterial soap. It is also important to segregate the food groups. This means you should keep your sliced veggies far from the meat prepping area. If you don’t, bacteria could be passed.
Don’t Leave the Leftovers Out
We’ve all heard the horror stories of partygoers getting sick on potato salad that was left out in the sun too long. To avoid such disasters, keep the hot foods hot and the cold foods cold – all the time.
Foods that should be eaten cold should be kept on ice when they are not being served. The rule-of-thumb is that foods designed to be served cold, should be stored at a temperature of below 4 degrees celsius. An ice block and cooler should do the trick, but be sure to check the ice on occasion to ensure it hasn’t melted.
Hot foods should be served right off the grill. Avoid stacking meat up on a platter to sit in the sun. Either keep the food hot or put it into a refrigerator to avoid bacteria from developing. Leftovers should always be refrigerated promptly to avoid problems. If you question the food, play it safe and throw it out.
Make Certain the Meat is Cooked
Eating undercooked meat is a cardinal sin when barbecuing and entertaining guests at a summer picnic. If you question the meat’s wellness, use a thermometer to put your mind at ease.
Poultry sources should be cooked to 74 degrees celsius, while ground meats (burgers) should be cooked to at least 71 degrees. Fish should appear flaky when done and reach a temperature of 63 degrees. Steaks and pork chops are safe to eat when the inside temperature reaches 63 degrees
When the safe temperatures are reached, veggies can be piled and stacked on top of the meat. Never introduce vegetables to uncooked meat for safety reasons.