A Healthy You: Food Safety for the Summer
By Cindy Gates
We have increased outside activities, such as picnics, barbeques, and camping trips. The safety controls of cooking, refrigeration and washing facilities are not usually available. Also bacteria are present throughout the environment in soil, air, and water. These microorganisms grow faster in warm summer months.
Most food borne bacteria grow fastest at temperatures from 90-110 degrees. Bacteria also need moisture to flourish, and summer weather is usually hot and humid. When the temperature is above 90 degrees, the time perishable food can be left outside the refrigerator drops from two hours to one hour. So beat bacteria this summer with these tips and travel-safe foods.
- Wash hands and clean surfaces often. When eating away from home, if there is no running water, use disposable washcloths and hand sanitizer.
- Don’t cross contaminate. Cross contamination during preparation, grilling and serving is a prime cause of food borne illness. Wash plates, utensils and cutting boards that held the raw meat before using again for cooked foods.
- Cook to safe food temperatures. Cook raw beef and pork to 145 degrees. Cook ground beef and ground pork to 160 degrees. Bring a meat thermometer along to make sure you have the proper temperature.
- Refrigerate properly. Bring coolers with plenty of ice or freezer packs. Use one cooler for ready-to-serve foods and one cooler for uncooked meat for the grill.
- Leftovers. Food left out more than 2 hours (or 1 hour if temperatures top 90 degrees) may not be safe to eat. If in doubt, throw it out.
- Wash your fruits and vegetables. Though only the inside of the melons is eaten, their outer rind still must be washed. Bacteria present in the soil can be transferred to the part we eat when we cut into the melon. Once fruits and vegetables are cut, they are like any other perishable food, so if not eaten within 1-2 hours, discard them.
- Shopping at farmers market. If you have a weakened immune system, be sure to ask if the cider is pasteurized which will kill any harmful bacteria it in. Also be careful with homemade canned items such as fresh salsas that may have sat out for too long. Also be careful of any samples of food that have been sitting out during the market hours. If you buys eggs at the farmers market, make sure they come from a cooler and have not been sitting out to long.
A Healthy You is a regular column about nutrition, healthy living and cancer care. It is written by Cindy Gates, RD and LD and the Cancer Center’s Oncology dietitian, herbalist and Certified Wellness Coach.