Summertime is all about food and fun, but it’s also important to pay special attention to food safety, especially in summer months when food borne illnesses are on the rise.
Use these tips as a checklist for planning your next cookout or picnic and enjoy all your summer soirees!
7 Food Safety Tips for Summer
1. Pay attention to temperature.
A general rule of thumb for entertaining: keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Keep cold foods chilled to 40°F or below and hot foods heated to 140°F or above.
2. Chill out.
Carry cold perishable food like raw hamburger patties, sausages, and chicken in an insulated cooler packed with several inches of ice, frozen gel packs, or containers of ice.
3. Store safe.
Be sure raw meat and poultry are wrapped securely to prevent their juices from cross-contaminating ready-to-eat food. If possible, store these foods near the bottom of the cooler, so that juices don’t contaminate other foods in the cooler.
4. Travel right.
If you can’t keep hot food hot during the drive to your location, plan and chill the food in the refrigerator before packing it in a cooler. Reheat the food to 165°F as measured with a food thermometer.
5. Serve smart.
Instead of using large serving bowls, serve dips and items with dairy in smaller containers. Make several in advance and keep them chilled in the refrigerator or coolers until you need them.
6. Prevent double-dipping!
Offer serving spoons and small plates to reduce opportunity for guests to eat items like dip and guacamole directly from the serving container (double-dipping is a “no-no” and can increase the chances for food contamination).
7. Follow the 2 hour rule.
The two-hour rule is in effect: food should not sit at room temperature for more than two hours. If bringing hot take-out food (like chicken fingers, wings etc.), eat it within 2 hours of purchase (or within 1 hour if the temperature is above 90 °F).
For more information on food safety, be sure to visit FoodSafety.gov to learn about best food safety practices and utilize “Ask Karen,” an online database with nearly 1,500 answers to specific questions related to preventing foodborne illnesses, in both English and Spanish, or to call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline.