Summer Food Safety and Storage….Minimize Your Risk of Foodborne Illness

Summer Food Safety and Storage….Minimize Your Risk of Foodborne Illness

With COVID-19 still wreaking havoc on our summer plans, take advantage of the extra time at home to prepare delicious and tasty meals. As always, safe food handling and storage is paramount to ensuring your family’s safety.

  • Make sure everyone handling food washes their hands before, during and after food preparation. Have plenty of hand sanitizer, wipes and handwashing stations set up and easy to locate. If possible, provide face masks for those in attendance at any social event (where allowed by health officials). 
  • Keep kitchen surfaces — such as appliances, countertops, cutting boards and utensils — clean with hot, soapy water throughout the meal preparation.
  • Use two cutting boards: one for raw meat, poultry and fish and the other for ready-to-eat foods like fruits and vegetables.
  • Use separate spoons and forks to stir, taste and serve food.
  • To prevent the spread of harmful bacteria, thaw frozen turkey and other meats in a refrigerator set below 40°F or in the microwave. Never thaw meats on the kitchen counter, in the oven or under hot water in the sink.
  • When defrosting food in the refrigerator, cover raw meat and place it on the bottom shelf so juices don't drip onto other foods.
  • After defrosting food in the microwave, cook it immediately afterward.
  • If you are pressed for time, thaw wrapped pieces of meat or poultry in a sink filled with cold tap water. Be sure to change the water every 30 minutes depending on size.
  • Use a meat thermometer to make sure meats reach a safe internal temperature. This is the only reliable way to determine the doneness of your food.
  • Cook meat/chicken to 165°F. Check the temperature with a meat thermometer.   
  • Allow to rest 3 minutes before carving or consuming.
  • Whether served family style or as a buffet, festive feasts often last for hours. After more than two hours, bacteria rapidly begins to multiply on perishable food items. For longer gatherings, keep some fresh food in the fridge to bring out at the two-hour mark.
  • It's a common mistake to let cooked foods cool before they go into the refrigerator. To chill a dish for serving or storage, promptly place it in the refrigerator after cooking. This ensures freshness and safety.
  • Set your refrigerator below 40°F and your freezer below 0°F.
  • Store leftovers in airtight, shallow containers (two inches deep or less).
  • Refrigerate or freeze leftovers within two hours of cooking the food.
  • Reheat leftovers to 165°F.
  • Use refrigerated cooked meat, chicken or fish within three to four days. Use cold salads (such as potato or macaroni salad) within one to two days. 
  • Eat leftover casseroles and cooked vegetables within three to four days.
  • Finish fruit, cream pies and cheesecake within two to three days. Regardless of how many days have passed: If in doubt, throw it out!
  • When baking cookies, cakes or brownies that include eggs as an ingredient, resist the temptation to taste raw dough or batter. Raw eggs may contain harmful bacteria that can lead to food poisoning. Cook treats before surrendering to your sweet tooth.
Janice Baker MBA, RDN, CDCES, CNSC, BC-ADM  Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist, Certified Nutrition Support Clinician, Board Certified- Advanced Diabetes Management. Appointment line:  (858)675-3150   Direct line:  (858)675-3179  Janice.Baker@ArchHealth.org
 
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