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Safe Summer Food Tips

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When at work, do you often find yourself daydreaming about the upcoming weekend, with the cool lake breezes, smooth water, fishing, boating, hiking, campouts, and the mouth watering taste of a perfectly grilled steak? Well, the weekend is almost here, and if your plans are to spend time out of doors and cooking your meals over open flames with great picnic foods, remember to keep food safety in mind.

When it comes to unsafe food, there are two major causes that can lead to food poisoning: natural causes and 'people" causes. Natural causes refer to bacteria that are already present in our environment. These bacteria grow faster in warm summer months, and fastest at temperatures from 90 to 110° F. "People" causes are people cooking without the safety features found in the kitchen, including controlled cooking temperature, refrigeration, and washing facilities. To ensure safety and guarantee a "great grilling time" without any food hazards read, the tips below.

Store and transport foods appropriately in a cooler chest packed with ice or portable ice packs to maintain the temperature at 40° F or less. Foods stored above this temperature allow harmful bacteria to grow. Defrost meat, poultry, and seafood by slow safe thawing methods such as defrosting in the refrigerator, immersion of meat in cold running water, or if to be immediately placed on the grill, you may use the microwave. Thawing these foods completely will ensure even cooking throughout.

Before and after touching food, wash your hands in hot soapy water if available.  Other alternate methods include wet naps, antibacterial hand gel, wet washcloths, and paper towels for cleaning hands and surfaces. Prevent cross-contamination by wrapping meat, poultry, and seafood securely to avoid raw juices from coming in contact with other foods Wash plates, utensils, and cutting boards that were used for raw foods before using them for cooked food.

Cook red meat, poultry, and seafood completely at your picnic site since precooked or partially cooked foods allows bacteria to multiply to the point that additional cooking cannot destroy. Red meat (beef, veal, pork, and lamb) should be cooked to 160° F. Cook whole poultry to 180° F and poultry parts to 170° F. Poultry juices should run clear. Hamburgers made of any ground meat or poultry should reach 160° F. Fully cooked meats like hot dogs should reach 165° F. Cook fish until it's opaque and flakes easily.

After mealtime is done, refrigerate foods promptly. Foods should not be left out more than one hour so they do not spoil and become unsafe to eat. If in doubt throw it out.

Carcinogens, which are substances that increase the risk of cancer, are something to consider when grilling this summer. Some studies have indicated increased potential for cancer risk related to eating foods that are grilled, fried, or broiled. These studies have found that eating moderate amounts of grilled meats without charring them does not pose a problem.

Prepare yourself and your outdoor grills for a summer full of barbecue parties. Just remember these grilling tips to keep your summer activities fun and bacteria free.

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September 24, 2017

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