Gear up for food safety

Airman 1st Class Jasmine Alexander

15th Aerospace Medicine Squadron Public Health

Summer is here and it’s time to bring out the grill. Although this time of year provides our families with a break from work and school, it doesn’t mean we should take a break from being smart about food safety and sanitation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “An estimated one in six Americans get sick annually, including 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths from eating contaminated food.”

During the summer, warmer temperatures contribute to the increase of foodborne illnesses because bacteria multiply faster at temperatures less than 135 F but greater than 41 F.

Preparing food outdoors is further challenging as the environment may introduce insects or debris into food products. Here are a few tips to stay healthy and safe this summer:

Bringing food to a cookout:

• When transporting food, use a cooler filled with ice or frozen ice packs.

• Foods that should be kept cold: raw meat, seafood, poultry, deli, sandwiches, summer salads (tuna, chicken, potato and macaroni), and fruits and vegetables.

• Avoid opening the cooler frequently so the food can maintain its cold temperature longer.

• Avoid leaving rice sitting at room temperature for long periods of time.

Cooking on the grill:

• Thoroughly wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before handling food items.

• Separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meat and ready-to eat food. Never mix the utensils for raw food and prepared food.

• Keep perishable food cold until it is ready to cook.

• Use a food thermometer to ensure all meat and poultry items reach their proper internal temperatures: 145 F fresh beef, veal, and lamb (3-minute hold time at this temperature) 160 F ground beef/hamburgers 165 F all poultry

Serving food outdoors:

•Do not allow food to sit out for more than an hour, when temperatures are above 90 F

•Hot foods should be maintained at a temperature of 135 F or higher.

•Cold foods should be maintained at a temperature of 41 F or below.

Following these steps will reduce the risk

of foodborne illnesses and ensure a safe and enjoyable barbecue.

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Category: News