Summer in full swing, and with it the official start of grilling season. Picnics, barbecues, and road trips are popular during summer months, and can create a fun environment to enjoy your favorite meals and snacks. Use these tips to keep your food safe whether you’re grilling, traveling, or soaking up some summer sun.
Be a savvy shopper. When shopping, choose non-perishable items before choosing frozen or refrigerated items. Avoid dented cans and torn, opened or leaking packages. Pay attention to “Sell by” and expiration dates to avoid buying items that will expire before they are used.
Keep things clean. Food safety starts with clean surfaces. Clean kitchen counters and prep areas often using an anti-bacterial agent. Wash hands by applying soap, scrubbing for 20 seconds and then rinsing under warm water before and after handling food, after touching hair, face and other surfaces, and between tasks.
Divide and Conquer. Keep utensils, cutting boards and serving dishes that have been in contact with raw meats, poultry, or fish separate from other food items. If possible, use a separate cutting board for meats and vegetables or fruits. If only one cutting board is available, prep veggies and fruits first, rinse the cutting board, then prepare meat items.
Avoid the danger zone. Pathogens thrive when foods held between 40°F and 140°F. Throw away any food left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours (only 1 hour if the temperature is above 90°F). Be sure to thaw and marinate foods under refrigeration, and store leftovers in shallow containers under refrigeration for no more than 4 days.
Prepare your favorite summer treats safely by keeping these tips in mind. Check out the USDA’s Food Safety Education page to learn about more ways to keep your food safe all year long.
Written by Angela Stancil MS, RD, LDN