Summer Cookout Food Safety
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Summer is here and chances are you have started to use your grill more frequently. When you are preparing food for yourself and others it is important to keep food safety in mind.
Did you know that alcohol-based hand sanitizers are not effective against all pathogens, especially one of the top pathogens that cause foodborne illness called Norovirus. So before touching food, always wash hands using soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. It is also important to rewash your hands if coming into contact with raw meat, soiled items, or after using the restroom.
When prepping food, ensure your equipment such as cutting boards, utensils, and prep areas have been correctly cleaned and sanitized. Wash your produce under running water that is slightly warmer than the produce, utilizing friction to assist in removing soil, debris and bacteria. Don’t forget to pull apart any leafy greens to ensure the whole product is rinsed.
Something that many people are not aware of is the risk of marinating foods on the counter. Always place marinating food in the refrigerator. If the marinade will be pulling double duty as a sauce, make sure to reserve some marinade that has not touched the raw meat.
You will want to take steps to avoid cross-contamination, which is a hazard for food-borne illness. Make sure you do not use the same
cutting board, prep surface or cutlery to prep your produce that has been used to prep raw meat, fish, or poultry without washing, rinsing and sanitizing these items first.
The Temperature Danger Zone
As most know, it is best practice to always wash your hands before preparing food, but did you know there is a temperature danger zone that certain foods should be kept out of? Temperatures between 41-135°F are what is referred to as the Temperature Danger Zone. The more time bacteria have in this zone, the more opportunity they have to grow to unsafe levels. Toss food in the compost bin or trash after spending 4 hours in this zone, or one hour if the temperature is over 90°F.
Foods such as dairy, meat, fish, leafy greens, and heat-treated plant-based foods (such as cooked beans or vegetables) are best kept safe at temperatures either below 41°F or above 135°F.
Minimal Internal Cooking Temperatures
Knowing the minimum internal cooking temperatures of foods and utilizing a food thermometer are excellent ways of combating foodborne illness. Whole cuts of beef, pork and fish require cooking to temperatures of at least 145°F. Ground meat has a higher minimum internal cooking temperature (158°F) and chicken requires the highest minimum internal cooking temperature of 165°F. After ensuring your thermometer is correctly calibrated, the probe can be inserted into food to ensure it is cooked to the appropriate temperature as stated above. When testing the temperature of whole cuts of meat, insert the probe horizontally, to the center of the meat, instead of vertically for a more accurate reading.
Enjoy your cookouts this Summer and keep your food safe by following the food safety guidelines. For more information on additional food safety information please visit our Food Safety Portal.