The hot days of summer can be a petri dish for food contamination. From transporting food in a hot vehicle to leaving goods out too long on the countertop, items can quickly go bad. As we near the start of the season, I think it prudent to share some useful food safety tips to keep you healthy this summer.
Keep in mind that:
When shopping use a cooler or insulated bag to store products until you arrive home. Goods such as dairy, meat, poultry and seafood can see a quick drop in temperature during the time it takes to shop, check out, and make the trip home. Additionally, unless items are being ‘held’ properly, do not stop for other errands, further delaying the time it takes to get food items into the appropriate storage unit.
It’s best to store meat in the lower section of the refrigerator. This minimizes the risk of ‘wet’ items dripping or spilling down and onto other foods, especially foods that are ready-to-eat and therefore do not require cooking or rinsing.
Wash foods properly where needed and as recommended.
When it comes to food safety, the old rule for thawing frozen foods still apply. Thaw items in the refrigerator. Just plan ahead and allow plenty of time.
I recommend that you cook ground meats within two days of purchase. If you do not plan on cooking it right away freeze it immediately.
Cross contamination can easily occur but can just as easily be avoided. Some simple things to remember here is prep dry good first, then fruits and vegetables, and leave meats, fish, and things of that sort for last. Use a separate knife and cutting board for each item. And be sure to disinfect surface area in between. Being diligent here can prevent contamination from salmonella and other bacteria.
Foods should not be kept too close to a hot grill for an extended period as the heat of the grill can induce early spoilage. Instead, place creamy and cheese-based foods like dressings, potato salad and the like on a separate surface and away from grilling area. Similarly, keep hot things hot and cold things cold.
It’s best to cook meats and fish all the way through. I know for some, foods done rare are simply divine. That’s just how you like it. However, undercooking can cause foodborne illness from parasites, etc. To prevent this, cook foods to an acceptable temperature. Invest in a food thermometer. And use it!
Again, the warm weather brings its own set of risks and hazards. Get cooking with these recommended food safety tips to keep you healthy this summer so you can eat your heart out worry free. Click on the link below for specific temperature guidelines and other useful resources.