Sunday, July 3, 2011


Summer is the time for outdoor eating and cooking. One of my regular readers asked me about how to avoid getting food poisoning at such events. She is right to be concerned. People all over the world get ill every summer from that wonderful picnic or barbecue. So here are some things you may want to keep in mind to avoid such problems.

Try to find a shady outdoor eating spot, or bring along your own umbrella so that food is not sitting in the sun, including when served.
• Keep food cold until you are ready to eat it (40 degrees F) in a good cooler, which is best left in the open in the shade - not in the hot trunk of your car. Make sure the ice or ice packs are on top of the food.
• If you are bringing already cooked and hot foods with you, or cooking outdoors, make sure that you don't let the food sit at a warm temperature for more than an hour. Keep it hot, and eat it quickly (bacteria multiply fastest at 40-140 degrees F).
• Make sure you keep uncooked meats away from other items that you plan to eat raw (such as salads or breads) and that you use different utensils for each, so that there is no cross-contamination.
• Wash your hands before handling food, and take special precautions when handling raw or partly cooked meat (use tongs). I usually take along an extra bottle of water on picnics, just for hand washing.
• When barbecuing make sure that everything is well-cooked to 165 degrees F (also see June 18 post - "Are Hot Dogs Safe to Eat?", no matter how hungry you are. (A meat thermometer is a small and light item to throw into your picnic basket).
• Throw out leftovers if they have been sitting outside for more than an hour or your ice has melted.

To your good health,


Me said...

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Anonymous said...

Thanks for the advice, particularly about the need to eat cooked food quickly as well.