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  • Joni Garcia, Asst. Manager, YFM

Keep Food Safe All Summer Long

Photo Source: Colin Marsh

The longer, slower, warmer and more relaxing days of summer are finally here! The

warmer weather is the perfect time to cook, grill, and dine outside. While it feels great

to eat outside and just linger, the warmer weather creates a perfect opportunity for the

growth of bacteria in food that is left out. The good news is that it’s easy to avoid the

growth of harmful bacteria on food by following a few tips. Check out the 10 tips below

to help keep food safe all summer long.

#1: Use a thermometer

A thermometer is the number one tool to make sure your grilled goodies are cooked to

the perfect temperature to destroy pesky pathogens. Studies show that checking the

color of the food isn’t an accurate way to tell if your food is cooked through. Click here

for a handy chart that provides minimum safe cooking temperatures for poultry, meats,

fish, and seafood.

#2: Keep food out of the temperature danger zone

Bacteria grow rapidly between the temperatures of 40° F and 140° F. After food is safely

cooked, hot food must be kept hot at 140° F or warmer to prevent bacterial

growth. Perishable food like cooked or raw meats and salads should never be left out at

room temperature for over 2 hours. When the weather gets hot -- above 90 degrees

Fahrenheit -- your window for leaving food lying out is only 1 hour. Toss any

unrefrigerated food if it surpasses the time limit.

#3: Don’t re-use marinades

During the summer, meats and poultry are oftentimes marinated then grilled. Be sure to

discard used marinade—this will prevent raw meat juices getting on your cooked food. If

you plan on using the marinade as a sauce for cooked meat, reserve some before

marinating the meat.

#4: Separate raw and cooked foods

If you’re getting ready to grill hot dogs, burgers, chicken or steak, be sure to use one

plate for the raw stuff and a separate, clean plate for the newly cooked foods. The same

rule applies for tongs and other serving utensils.

#5: Wash hands properly

When washing hands, be sure to lather and scrub hands (including in between fingers)

for at least 20 seconds before rinsing the soap off.

#6: Pack a safe picnic

Raw meats and poultry should be packed in a separate cooler and surrounded by ice. If

you have a long drive, coolers should be stored in the air-conditioned part of the car

rather than in the hot trunk.

#7: Defrost meats properly

Leaving raw meat and poultry on the countertop to defrost will only allow dangerous

food bugs to grow. Plan ahead and defrost meat 1-2 days in advance in the refrigerator.

#8: Wash produce thoroughly

Wash fruit and veggies in cool tap water before eating to eliminate any bacteria. This

includes washing produce like melon before you slice or peel it to make sure bacteria

isn’t transferred from the knife to your fruit or veggies.

#9: Wash reusable grocery store bags

If use reusable grocery bags, it’s important to wash them regularly. Studies found that

harmful bacteria can linger in your totes and hitch a ride with ready-to-eat foods like


#10: Store and reheat leftovers safely

Leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days or frozen for 3 to 4 months.

When reheating leftovers, be sure they reach 165° F as measured with a food

thermometer. Reheat sauces, soups and gravies by bringing them to a rolling boil.

Cover leftovers to reheat. This retains moisture and ensures that food will heat all the

way through.

Enjoy your summer cookouts!!

Adapted from:

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