AUSTIN, Texas — Summer picnics are full of family, fun, enjoying the outdoors and food, but one needs to be extra careful during these hot summer days to avoid getting sick from food poisoning.
There are a few simple steps people can take to enjoy the outdoors while eating a delicious meal, without the worries of foodborne diseases. (Information from the CDC)
Keep foods cool
Rates of food poisoning often increase in summer months because bacteria grow faster in warmer weather. Eating food left in the “Danger Zone” (40 degrees Fahrenheit to 140 degrees Fahrenheit) for too long can make people sick.
• Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood chilled until ready to grill, in the fridge or in an insulated cooler, below 40 degrees Fahrenheit
• Put leftovers in the freezer or refridgerator within two hours of cooking, or for 1 hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit outside.
• Throw away any remaining perishable food that isn’t refrigerated.
Cook meat thoroughly
It’s important to cook food to a safe internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria. One should never partially grill meat and finish cooking it later.
• If possible, use a food thermometer to make sure meat is cooked hot enough to kill germs.
• Beef, pork, fish: 145 degrees Fahrenheit
• Hamburgers and ground meat: 160 degrees Fahrenheit
• Chicken or turkey: 165 degrees Fahrenheit
• If you’re smoking meat, keep the temperature inside the smoker at 225 degrees Fahrenheit to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Clean hands and produce
• Wash fresh vegetables and lettuce
• Wash your hands before handling any food and after touching raw meat, poultry, or seafood. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
• Clean work surfaces, utensils, and the grill before and after cooking
Separate raw from cooked
• Throw away or thoroughly cook marinades and sauces that have touched raw meat or seafood.
• Put cooked meat on a clean plate.
• Keep raw meats, poultry, and seafood away from cooked and ready-to-eat food and drinks.
• Don’t use the same utensils on raw foods and cooked and ready-to-eat foods.
Approximately 48 million Americans get food poisoning every year.