Whether you're cooking outside on the grill this summer or grabbing a bite at a street fair or ball game, follow these tips from the USDA to help keep your family safe from foodborne illness, which is much more common in the warmer months.
Foodborne illness tends to spike in the summer for two main reasons: bacteria multiply faster in warm weather, and more people cook and eat outdoors where there aren’t a lot of safety controls like refrigeration and running water.
Follow these "Be Food Safe" tips from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to keep your family safe from foodborne illness this summer:
1. Clean: Bring hand sanitizer or moist towelettes to clean your hands before eating or handling food. Before purchasing food at a fair or ball game, Melissa Halas-Liang, MA, RD, the founder of SuperKids Nutrition, recommends watching the counter to see if the employees handling the food are also handling the money. If so, steer clear.
2. Separate: Don’t use the same plates and utensils for raw meat and cooked meat. The juices from raw meat should never touch cooked meat. Also, make sure to wash your hands with warm, soapy water after handling any raw meat, poultry, fish, or eggs.
3. Cook: You can’t tell if something is cooked to a safe internal temperature by its color; it can be brown on the outside and undercooked inside. Use a food thermometer to determine if meat is ready to eat. Keep in mind that the thermometer should be placed in the thickest part of the food and should not be touching bone, fat, or gristle.
Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures:
Poultry (whole, breasts, ground): 165°F
Ground meat: 160°F
Beef, pork, lamb, and veal (steaks, roast, chops): 145°F (plus 3 minutes rest)
Note: When using a food thermometer, it is important to wash the probe after each use with hot, soapy water before reinserting it into a food.
4. Chill: Food shouldn’t be left out at room temperature for more than two hours. If it’s hotter than 90°F, it’s only safe outside for an hour.
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