Tips For Summer Food Safety

Whether you are planning a small summer cookout, a large family gathering, a beach picnic or a camping trip, it is important to keep food safety in the forefront. Because bacteria grow and multiply much more quickly in the heat, it is a known fact that foodborne illnesses are on the rise during the warm summer months. In addition, outdoor dining can offer challenges when refrigeration and running water are not at our fingertips. For food safety, always consider the following tips when planning meals:  

Food Safety Starts at the store.

  • Keep meat and poultry away from other perishables in your shopping cart. At checkout, packages of raw meat and poultry should be bagged separately to minimize the chance of cross-contamination.
  • Pick up perishables as close to check out as possible to help maintain proper temperatures. Bring insulated bags or a cooler if stops are planned on the way home. This is especially important when the temperatures soar. Remember, McCaffrey’s will gladly pack items like fish on ice if requested!

Take steps to maintain proper temperatures.

  • Be sure to refrigerate perishable foods promptly. Holding food at an unsafe temperature is a prime cause of foodborne illness. The rule of thumb is to refrigerate all perishables within 2 hours. However, if the temperature exceeds 90 degrees, refrigerate within 1 hour. 
  • When taking food on the road, pack perishables in a cooler with plenty of ice packs and/or frozen water bottles. When traveling, keep the cooler in the coldest part of the car. Upon destination arrival, place   coolers in the shade to help maintain proper temperatures. 
  • This Rotini Pasta Salad can be prepared ahead of time and travels well for potluck or picnic. 

Use Your Freezer.

  • Avoid leaving poultry or ground meat in the refrigerator for more than a couple days. Play it safe and freeze until ready to use. It is helpful to check the “use by dates” on the label. 
  • Be sure to completely thaw meat and poultry so it cooks more evenly. 
    • Thawing meat and poultry in the refrigerator offers a slow, safe option. Make sure to contain any liquid that might drip from the package. 
    • Sealed packages can be thawed in a sink of cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes. Small packages of meat, poultry or seafood — about a pound — may thaw in an hour or less. A 3-to 4-pound package may take 2 to 3 hours. Once thawed, food should be cooked immediately. 
    • Food can be defrosted in the microwave, but for food safety reasons, it should be cooked right away.

Keep it clean.

  • Frequent handwashing is very important to prevent foodborne illness. 
  • If cooking out or picnicking in an area without running water, be sure to have supplies for cleaning hands and surfaces readily available. 
  • Never use the same platter and utensils for raw and cooked meat and poultry. 

Cook Thoroughly and use a food thermometer.

  • Meat and poultry cooked on a grill often browns quickly and may appear “done.” Be sure to use a food thermometer to confirm food has reached a safe minimum internal temperature.
    • Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, roasts and fish to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F before removing from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest period for at least three minutes before cutting or consuming.
    • Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 160 °F.
    • Cook all poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature of     165 °F.
    • When reheating fully cooked meats like hot dogs, grill to 165 °F.
  • Grill up this Flank Steak and serve over a refreshing spinach and bean salad that will keep both meat and veggie-lovers happy and healthy.
  • Or try this incredible Grilled Caribbean Chicken Breast recipe for a flavorful, tropical twist.

Always marinate food in the refrigerator. 

  • Marinating enhances both the flavor and textures of food. 
  • Boil the used marinade if brushing on the meat or poultry while it is grilling. Do not save the used marinade.
  • If planning on using marinade as a sauce on the cooked food, set aside a portion of the marinade to serve with the meal. 
  • Pull out all the stops with these top-of-the-line Surf and Turf Kebabs marinated in a bloody Mary mixture for tender steak tips and flavorful shrimp.

Keep Hot Food Hot

  • After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, keep it hot until served — at 140 °F or warmer. 
  • Keep cooked meats hot by setting them to the side of the grill rack, not directly over the coals where they could overcook. Food can also be kept hot in an oven set at 200 °F, in a chafing dish, a slow cooker, on a warming tray or in a warming drawer.
  • Don’t forget the vegetables – Grilled Corn on the Cob is always a winning ticket.

After the meal:  

  • Be sure to refrigerate any leftovers promptly in shallow containers. Discard any food that is left out more than 2 hours (or after 1 hour if temperatures are above 90 °F).

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