Tips for a Healthy Summer

The summer months bring a lot of time spent outdoors with friends and family. Fresh food, picnics and dining out are part of the great summertime experience.  When eating out there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

Due to a variety of factors, including warmer temperatures, foodborne illness increases in summer. Stay healthy and safe during warmer months by following these food safety recommendations:

When bringing food to a picnic or cookout:

  • Use an insulated cooler filled with ice or frozen gel packs.  Frozen food can also be used as a cold source.
  • Foods that need to be kept cold include raw meat, poultry, and seafood; deli and luncheon meats or sandwiches; summer salads (tuna, chicken, egg, pasta, or seafood); cut up fruit and vegetables; and perishable dairy products.
  • A full cooler will maintain its cold temperature longer than a partially filled one.  When using a cooler, keep it out of the direct sun by placing it in the shade or shelter.
  • Avoid opening the cooler repeatedly so that your food stays colder longer.

When cooking on the grill:

  • Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meat and ready-to-eat items like vegetables or bread.
  • Keep perishable food cold until it is ready to cook.
  • Use a food thermometer to make sure meat and poultry are cooked thoroughly to their safe minimum internal temperatures
    • Beef, Pork, Lamb, & Veal (steaks, roasts, and chops): 145 °F with a 3 minute rest time
    • Ground meats: 160 °F
    • Whole poultry, poultry breasts, & ground poultry: 165 °F
  • Always use a fresh, clean plate and tongs for serving cooked food. Never reuse items that touched raw meat or poultry to serve the food once it is cooked.

When serving food outdoors:

  • Perishable food should not sit out for more than two hours.  In hot weather (above 90 °F), food should NEVER sit out for more than one hour.
  • Serve cold food in small portions, and keep the rest in the cooler.  After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, keep it hot until served – at 140 °F or warmer.
  • Keep hot food hot by setting it to the side of the grill rack, not directly over the coals where they could overcook.

For more tips on how to have a safe and healthy summer visit, foodsafety.gov.

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