From watermelon and grilled sweet corn to barbecue of every style and flavor, summertime is a divine time for dining, especially outside.

Salmonella and E. Coli are unlikely on your alfresco menu, but these party crashers can show up if you’re not food safe.

Bacteria, viruses, and parasites are common causes of food poisoning. No one sets out to serve contaminated food. Be vigilant and handle food safely all the time. It gets more difficult in summer when we serve food outdoors, have limited refrigeration to keep cold foods cold or no electricity to keep hot foods hot. Dishwashing facilities outdoors are usually not great as well.

So practice proper food handling habits like these:

  • Avoid “danger zone” temps: This “zone” is when temperatures are between 40 and 140 degrees. In other words, keep hot foods hot (141 degrees or more) and cold foods cold (less than 39 degrees). When in doubt: use a thermometer!
  • Prevent cross-contamination: Don’t mix cutting boards, utensils or serving plates that were used with raw foods. Put the steaks on a clean serving plate when they come off the fire, not on the plate you used to bring them out to the grill. Better to have more dishes to wash than stomach cramps and vomiting!
  • Wash your hands: Wash hands with soap and water before you start food preparation and do it again between tasks. If you don’t have access to soap and water, pack moist towelettes or hand sanitizer. Everyone should wash their hands before gobbling down!

When you use these basic food safety tips and common sense, you can enjoy many wonderful, summer days. Summer is too short to let unwanted bacteria and viruses ruin it

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