Memorial Day is fast approaching, and with it summertime BBQs and outdoor events. While your family is enjoying the summer sun and delicious food, it’s important to make sure that proper food safety guidelines are followed. Here are some tips to help keep your food safe this summer:
- Keep foods at their recommended temperature
We all know that raw meats like uncooked burgers, steaks, chicken, and fish all need to be kept cold. But, that same rule applies to deli meat, cut up fruit and vegetables, and dairy products like cheese and sour cream. You’ll want to pack at least three coolers with ice to keep raw food separate from everything else. Try to find a shady spot to keep the coolers, and remember to keep the coolers containing food products closed. Beverages should be kept in another cooler as constant opening and closing will result in unstable temperatures and faster ice melt.
- Be prepared
If you plan on preparing food and cooking outdoors, you’ll want to make sure you bring at least two cutting boards: one for raw foods and one for cooked foods. Extra plates, cooking utensils, and silverware should also be packed for the same reason. Cross-contamination between raw foods and cooked foods can increase the chances of foodborne illness. You’ll also want to bring a food thermometer with you so you know each food item has been cooked to its proper temperature. A jug of water and some antibacterial soap is a great addition if you won’t be near a bathroom to wash your hands.
- Know your numbers
According to the USDA, meats including beef, pork, lamb, and veal should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Ground meat should be cooked to 160, and poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees. Make sure that the grill is hot enough before placing food on it; the coals should be lightly coated with ash which takes about 30 minutes. Never eat food that has been sitting around for longer than an hour without being refrigerated or put back into the cooler. Lastly, always put cold foods back into your cooler immediately after serving, and keep hot foods on the grill until they are served so their temperature remains constant.