When the weather gets warm, it’s especially important to take extra steps to protect your family from food poisoning. Summer is a great time for outdoor picnics and barbecues, but the warm weather makes it easy for bacteria and super-bugs in food to grow and cause food poisoning.
Here are 7 things you can do to avoid food poisoning this barbecue season
- Wash, Wash, Wash Your Hands. Always wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.
- Marinating Mandate. Always marinate food in the refrigerator, not out on the counter. Don’t re-use the sauce that was used to marinate raw meat or poultry on cooked food. Instead, set aside some of the unused marinade to use as a sauce.
- Hot, Hot, Hot. When grilling foods, let the coals heat up for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the coals are lightly coated with ash
- Where’s the Beef? Chicken and Fish? Hamburgers should be cooked to 160 ºF, while large cuts of beef such as roasts and steaks may be cooked to 145 ºF for medium rare or to 160 ºF for medium. Poultry must reach a temperature of 165 °F. Fish should be a whitish or pinkish color, and it should be dense and flake easily.
- Temperature Gauge. Use a food thermometer to make sure food reaches a safe temperature.
- Stay Away from that Same Old Plate. When taking food off the grill, don’t use the same plate that had raw food on it, unless you first wash it with hot soap and water. And in hot weather (above 90°F), food should never sit out for more than one hour before putting it into the refrigerator.
- Keep the Cooler Cool. A full cooler will stay cold longer than one that is not completely full, so pack plenty of extra ice or freezer packs. Keep the cooler out of the direct sun. Keep drinks in a separate cooler from foods, since the beverage cooler is opened frequently while the food cooler stays cold.