Dont Get Burned- Fire Up With Food Safety

Suzanne Brouillette, Lemoine, Michelle B.  |  6/3/2008 7:20:31 PM

Year after year, we hear and read the same advice: Handle food carefully in the summer because food borne illness- also known as “food poisoning”- happens more in warmer weather. This is because microorganisms grow faster in the warm summer months. Most food borne bacteria grow fastest at temperatures from 90 to 110 degrees F. Given the right circumstances, harmful bacteria can quickly multiply on food to large numbers. When this happens, someone eating the food can get sick. Here are some tips to avoid getting sick during these hot summer months.

1) CLEAN: Wash hands and surfaces often. Unwashed hands are a prime cause of food borne illness. Wash you hands with hot, soapy water before handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and handling pets.

2) SEPARATE: Cross-contamination during preparation, grilling, and serving food is a prime cause of food borne illness. When packing the cooler chest for an outing, wrap raw meats securely; avoid raw meat juices from coming in contact with ready-to-eat food. Wash plates, utensils, and cutting boards that held the raw meat or poultry before using again for cooked food.

3) CHILL: Holding food at an unsafe temperature is a prime cause of food borne illness. Keep cold food cold! Cold refrigerated perishable food like luncheon meats, cooked meats, chicken, and potato or pasta salads should be kept in an insulated cooler packed with several inches of ice, ice packs, or containers of frozen water. Consider packing canned beverages in one cooler and perishable food in another cooler because the beverage cooler will probably be opened frequently. Keep the cooler in the coolest part of the car, and place in the shade or shelter, out of the sun, whenever possible. Preserve the cold temperature of the cooler by replenishing the ice as soon as it starts melting. If a cooler chest is not an option, consider taking fruits, vegetables, hard cheeses, canned or dried meats, dried cereal, bread, peanut butter, crackers, and bottles of refreshing beverages.

What about leftovers? Food left out of refrigeration for more than 2 hours may not be safe to eat. Above 90 degrees F, food should not be left out over 1 hour. Play it safe; put leftover perishables back on ice once you finish eating so they do not spoil or become unsafe to eat. IF YOU HAVE ANY DOUBTS, THROW IT OUT!!

The information presented here is provided through the Health and Wellness Center in Bolling Air Force Base, the Centsible Nutrition Cook Book from the University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service, and Southern University Cooperative Extension Program. For more information about recipes and nutrition tips, contact a county agent in your parish office of the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service, the educational branch of the LSU-Southern University Ag Center at 964-2245.

It is the policy of the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service that no person shall be subjected to discrimination on the grounds of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, or disability

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