With summer comes picnic and barbecue season, a time to socialize with friends and family while relaxing outdoors. But with temperatures heating up, it’s important to remember that some foods aren’t meant to be sitting in the sun for hours and the last thing anyone wants is for foodborne illness to spoil the fun.
Avoiding Foodborne Illness
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year one in six Americans — roughly 48 million people — gets sick due to foodborne illness. Of those who get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die. Foodborne illness tends to rise during the summer months, in part due to the higher temperatures and more foods being served outdoors.
Safety tips on how to prepare, store and serve your family’s picnic and barbecue favorites during the warm-weather season follow.
* Store and carry foods in insulated coolers packed with ice or frozen gel packs. Frozen foods can also double as ice packs.
* Fill your coolers. A full cooler maintains its temperature longer than one that is partially filled.
* Keep coolers out of direct sunlight. Store and serve foods in the shade.
* To keep the cool air in your coolers, avoid repeatedly opening the ones that contain food.
* Foods that must be kept cool include raw meat, poultry, seafood, deli and luncheon meats or sandwiches, summer salads (tuna, chicken, egg, pasta, seafood), cut-up fruits and vegetables and dairy products.
* Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meat. Do not reuse these items for cutting vegetables, bread or other foods.
* Keep perishable items cold until you’re ready to cook them.
* Use a food thermometer to ensure that meat and poultry are cooked thoroughly.
* Do not allow perishable food to sit outside for more than two hours. When temperatures rise about 90° F, the maximum time should be one hour.
* After cooking meat on the grill, keep it hot by setting it to the side of the grill rack until served.
* Serve cold foods in small portions, and refill from the cooler as needed.
* Thaw frozen meat ahead of time in the refrigerator — never thaw it outdoors.
When to See Your Provider
Should you or anyone else become ill after eating, seek medical help for any of the following conditions.
* Diarrhea that lasts more than 48 hours (in an adult) and 24 hours (in a child).
* Dehydration — which is indicated by severe weakness, lightheadedness, dark-colored urine or little-to-no urine.
* A fever.
* A dark or bloody stool.