Summertime Food Safety

Before you take another helping of that delicious potato salad your aunt brought to the family barbeque, you might want to think what else is in there – and no I’m not referring to the mayonnaise!  I’m talking about bacteria, hundreds and hundreds of bacteria that are hungry just like you.  How did they get there?  Lots of ways, but the most common are not washing hands properly and leaving food outside in the warm summer temperature for too long.  In fact did you know that food borne illnesses increase ever summer?  According to the US Department of Agriculture food borne bacteria thrives on temperatures ranging from 90° to 120°F, and people cook and eat outside more often. These simple tips can help keep you, your loved ones and your food safe from those bad bacteria!   Serving Picnic Foods Keep cold foods COLD! Cold food should be kept at 40°F or below to prevent bacteria growth.  Once served, food should not stay out for longer than 2 hours.   If it is extremely hot outside (above 90°F), do not let food sit out longer than 1 hour. Keep hot foods HOT!  Hot food should be kept at 140°F or higher. Same rule applies to hot foods:  do not let hot foods sit out for more than 2 hours from the time it is first served, or 1 hour if temperature exceeds 90°F. Two is better than one… Two coolers that is! Consider having a separate cooler for beverages and another for perishable foods. That way when guests open the cooler to grab a new drink, your food will stay cool and keep bacteria from multiplying. For more tips and advice for handling foods and grilling, please visit the FDA website. Be safe and enjoy the rest of the summer! Elaine Secilmis, RD, CD        

Share this post