Ah, summer! Nothing invokes fun memories more than picnics at the beach, barbeques in the backyard or going on a road trip.
With warmer temperatures outside and more food being prepared and served outdoors, the chance for foodborne illness rises. One in six Americans will get sick from food poisoning this year.
But don’t worry, with four simple principles you can help to ensure that trip to the beach or the lovely drive through the mountains will keep your family from being a victim of foodborne illness — clean, separate, cook and chill.
Did you know there is no such thing as a 24 hour flu? Flu is short for influenza and it lasts much longer than 24 hours. If you have a short period of vomiting, among other symptoms, it’s more likely to be food poisoning (Staphylococcal). Keep in mind it is not necessarily something you ate recently. Some pathogens can take hours to seven days to manifest.
Keep it Clean — Be sure to wash your fruit and veggies — those delicious melons in particular need to be washed with soap and water before slicing into them. Cutting through the outside brings all the bacteria to the inside, like everything the melon came in contact with including all the hands that touched it before you brought it home.
Separate — Summer foods usually means burgers, hotdogs, sandwiches and potato salad. But whatever your menu, it’s important to remember to keep raw foods separate from ready-to-eat foods.
Cross contamination can happen if you put those raw hamburgers in with the lettuce and tomatoes. Plastic bags are porous and will leak. Put all raw meat in the bottom of the cooler or the bottom shelf of your refrigerator.
Cook it Well — This is where you do not want to be guessing. Make sure you have a good thermometer that has been calibrated. How do you calibrate? I’m glad you asked! You can put the end into a pot of boiling water and make sure it reaches 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Digital thermometers cannot be adjusted, but dial ones can by turning the nut the on the bottom.
Keep it Cold! — As we know, summer can mean temperatures from the 80s to 100s. And with those temps, food can hit the danger zone real quick.
Pathogens just love to get down and boogey when it’s 40 degrees to 140 degrees. Nothing says pathogen party like warm potato salad. If you’re serving outside, put bowls of food into another bowl filled with ice to help keep it cool.
Don’t put all of your potato salad out. Put out some, leave the rest in the cooler and refilling as needed. When everyone is stuffed, get those leftovers straight into the cooler or refrigerator to chill them quickly.
We hope you have a great summer! If you have questions, the OSU Hotline for Home Food Safety and Preservation will be open July 15 through mid-October, Monday through Friday 9 a.m. — 4 p.m., 800-354-7319.
And, for more information on Food Safety visit www.extension.oregonstate.edu/food/safety-storage