Summertime Food Safety Tips

Summer is here, which means that it is picnic and barbecue season. Barbecues and picnics offer lots of opportunities for outdoor fun with family and friends. However, these summer activities also present opportunities for food-borne bacteria to thrive. Safe food handling is critical to protect yourself, your family and friends from food-borne illnesses when eating outside.

Below are some food safety guidelines to follow to keep your food safe.

Keep cold food cold.

Place cold food in cooler with ice and/or ice packs. Cold food should be stored at 40° F or below to prevent bacterial growth. Pack meat frozen so that it will stay colder longer.

Organize cooler contents.

Consider packing beverages in one cooler and perishable foods in another. The beverage cooler may get opened more often and this way the food will not get exposed to the heat as much.

Don’t cross-contaminate.

Keep raw meat securely wrapped, to keep juices from contaminating already prepared, cooked, or raw foods (vegetables and fruits).

Marinate safely.

Marinate foods in a refrigerator – never on the counter or outdoors.

Cook food thoroughly.

Have your food thermometer ready to check the internal temperature of the food.

    • Ground Beef, pork, veal, lamb 160° F
    • Fresh beef, pork, veal, lamb 145° F
    • Turkey, chicken 165° F
    • Leftovers and casseroles 165° F

Keep hot foods hot.

Grilled food can be kept hot until served by moving it to the side of the grill rack, away from the coals. This keeps it hot but prevents overcooking.

Don't leave foods out for too long.

Foods should not sit out for longer than 2 hours or 1 hour if the temperature outside is 90° F or higher. If it does – throw it out.

Following these simple food safety tips this summer can keep you, your family and friends safe from food borne illnesses.

Have a great summer!


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Grilled Honey-Lime Chicken

Holly White, RDN, LDN, CDE