What's the one (and only thing) that would cause me to pass up a juicy burger at a summer barbecue? Flies buzzing around the meat platter. Grody!
Summer barbecues and picnics are breeding grounds for bacteria and food-borne illness simply because perishable food is often left out in warm weather for way too long.
Here are some food safety tips to keep in mind this summer whenever you're cooking or eating outdoors.
- Keep raw meat and cooked food separate. Don't put grilled food on the same platter or cutting board that held raw meat, poultry, or seafood. The juices from the raw food might contain bacteria that could contaminate cooked food.
- Cook meat thoroughly. Be sure cooked meat has reached a safe internal temperature. The USDA recommends 160F for ground beef and pork; 145F for beef, veal, lamb, steaks, and roasts; and 165F for poultry, casseroles, and leftovers.
- Don't let food sit out. Perishable food should never sit out for more than two hours. Note that if the outside temperature is above 90F (very typical during the summer), foods are unsafe after only one hour.
- Keep food away from direct sun or insects. Especially insects, if you want me at your barbecue.
- Dispose of marinades. If you use a marinade for raw meat, poultry, or fish, resist the temptation to use the soaking marinade as a basting liquid while grilling (oops, guilty as charged!).
- Keep cold foods cold until they are served. Store pasta salad, potato salad, fresh fruit, etc. in the refrigerator or in coolers with plenty of ice or freezer packs. Be sure to store uncooked meat on the bottom of the cooler so the raw dishes don't drip onto your other food.
Do you have any food safety tips for the summer?