CRH Encourages You to Avoid Summer Bummers: Summer Food Safety Tips

Mona Van Wart, CRH Dietitian, offers summer food safety tips to keep your family healthy and safe.

Summer is in full swing and Americans are outside and on the move.  To keep food poisoning, injuries and other summer woes from spoiling the fun, follow some basic safety tips to avoid illness and injury that could even become life-threatening. 

"One out of every six Americans contracts a foodborne illness each year," says Mona Van Wart, CRH Dietitian.  "Most cases are mild, with symptoms lasting a day or two.  However, some 128,000 people are hospitalized and 3,000 die annually from consuming contaminated food or beverages.  Very young children, people with compromised immune systems and those older than 50 are most at risk."  

Barbeques and picnics are an open invitation for uninvited visitors. Bacteria and other pathogens that can grow rapidly and cause sickness.  The non-profit Partnership for Food Safety Education offers these tips to avoid those nasty bugs: 

-After handling raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water 

-Refrigerate food while it is marinating 

-Do not use uncooked marinade as a sauce for cooked food

-Use a food thermometer to ensure grilled meat, fish and chicken are cooked to a safe internal temperature

-Do not serve cooked food on the same plate used for uncooked food

It's important to make sure food that's been left out of refrigeration too long is not eaten.  The guidelines for keeping eggs, salads, meats and other perishable food safe are simple. It's all about time and temperature.  Discard any food that has been left out more than two hours if the temperature has been 90 degrees or less.  However, you should pitch uneaten items after just one hour out of the refrigerator if the temperature has climbed above 90 degrees during that time.  

When transporting perishable food to your favorite summer spot, stow it out of the sun in coolers packed with ice or frozen gel packs.  Pack drinks or snacks that you want to get to frequently in a separate cooler to avoid exposing the other food to warm outside air when the lid is lifted.  Meat, fish and poultry can be packed frozen.  It will thaw on the road and stay colder longer. 

Remember that a full cooler keeps food safer than one that is partially filled.  Use ice or gel packs to take up any open space.  And in the kitchen, keep raw meat, poultry and seafood separate from other foods to avoid contamination.  

For more information, visit the Partnership for Food Safety Education website at http://www.fightbac.org/safe-food-handling/safety-in-all-seasons.