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Better to be aware than suffer: Summer time food safety tips!

Jan 12, 2018

Better to be aware than suffer: Summer time food safety tips!
Better to be aware than suffer: Summer time food safety tips! | Credit: Andrik Langfield Petrides

Every year when summer rolls around, we look forward to those ice creams and cold drinks to quench our thirst. What we don’t know or care at times is that summer is also the season for food poisoning. The summer heat and the accompanying humidity and sometimes the lack of a safe and clean environment together contributes to food poisoning.

High temperatures allow foodborne illnesses to thrive, as bacteria tend to increase and multiply at a higher rate in hot conditions. This makes it imperative that we maintain food hygiene and safety during summertime. Certain food cooking techniques also lead to spoilage resulting in illnesses. So it's more important than ever to be careful when preparing and cooking foods.

Precautions

A few precautions that one must always follow are:

  • Wash your hands often, especially before handling food and after using the restroom. Use hot, soapy water and scrub well for at least 20 seconds. It's the friction that cleans your hands! Wash your hands with warm water and soap before and after handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and handling pets. Always remember to pack disposable towels and tissue paper for wiping your hands and other surfaces when you are eating outside.
  • Prevent cross contamination.   Always wrap raw meat securely and separate your food items. It is important to wash the plates or cutting boards that held the raw meat before using it again for cooked food. The raw meat items that are kept in coolers have to be wrapped securely to prevent their juices from leaking into other food in the cooler. Cross Contamination has been a prime cause of most of the summer related food illnesses.
  • Wash your fruits and vegetables. It's not only important to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, but it’s more important to wash those fruits and veggies before consumption because of the large number of people who handle produce before you buy it. Also wash away any traces of any pesticides by soaking your fruits or vegetables in a clean container in cold water for several minutes. Add a spoon of Apple Cider Vinegar to wash away any clinging chemicals. Scrub the surface if necessary, then rinse thoroughly under running water and blot them dry.
  • Cooking safely. The high temperatures while cooking kills the harmful bacteria so always cook your meat at proper temperatures. Always make sure to use a food thermometer when you are cooking meat, poultry, seafood and egg products to ensure the safety of the food that you eat. These types of food must be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy any harmful bacteria.
  • Store food safely. Keep cold food cold and hot food hot. Keep your refrigerator temperature below 41°F. When serving food don't leave it out for more than 2 hours. Cool leftovers as soon as possible.
  • Safe Food Handling. During warm weather, it is especially important to take extra precautions and practice safe food handling when preparing perishable food such as meat, poultry, seafood and egg products. Summer is the ideal time for outdoor picnics and barbecues but they also become a breeding ground for bacteria and other pathogens in the food to multiply rapidly and cause foodborne illnesses.
  • Chilling. Never thaw food at room temperature, such as on the countertop. Food can be defrosted safely by keeping the food in the refrigerator from the freezer or in cold water or the microwave. Food that is thawed in cold water or microwave should be cooked immediately. Refrigerate or freeze meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, and other perishables within 2 hours of cooking or purchasing. Always keep the food in the refrigerator if the temperature outside is above 90° F.

Please take summertime food safety seriously so that you don’t lose the ideal time for outdoor picnics and barbecues to lying in bed with some foodborne diseases. If one follows the above precautions, a pleasure filled lazy summer becomes one of our most cherished memories.