Summer is here, which often means more picnics and grilling or cooking outdoors – and unfortunately, an increase in heat-related foodborne illnesses.
“Children under the age of 3 are especially susceptible to severe infections and medical complications from food-borne bacteria,” says Ascension Via Christi pediatrician Amy Seery, MD.
Here are a some food safety tips to keep in mind whether you’re bringing food to a picnic or cooking dinner on your backyard grill:
- Keep your food cold. This is especially true for foods like raw meat, deli meat, salads and dairy products. Use an insulated cooler with ice or frozen gel packs.
- Use a cooler that’s the correct size. A full cooler stays cold for longer than one only partially filled. Keep your cooler in the shade, if possible, and limit the times you open it.
- Don’t mix raw meat with ready-to-eat items. Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meat and keep perishable food cold until you’re ready to cook it.
- Don’t guess the temperature, especially for meat. Use a food thermometer to ensure your meat and poultry are cooked to their safe minimum internal temperatures.
- Serve cooked food with fresh plates and utensils. Never reuse items that touched raw meat to serve once the food is cooked.
Perishable food shouldn’t sit out for more than two hours, or one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees. Be sure to keep hot food hot by setting it to the side of the grill rack, but not directly over the fire source where it could overcook.
Should you suspect that you have contracted a food-related illness, consult with your family physician. To find a doctor, go to viachristi.org/doctors.