Serve Summer Safe with Food Safety Tips from USDA

Memorial Day weekend is the official start of summer, and as the weather gets hotter, so does the number of meals that will be served outside. Whether you’re dining with friends at the pool or with family in the backyard, food should be served safely to avoid foodborne illness. As you start planning your outdoor activities and meals, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service offers food safety tips to protect you from foodborne illness.

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“Bacteria that cause foodborne illness love summer as much as we do because they thrive and multiply rapidly in warm temperatures. This causes higher rates of illness during the summer,” said Undersecretary for Food Safety Dr. Emilio Esteban. “Because we all spend time “The longer you’re out, it’s important to remember these food safety steps to keep your friends and family safe.”

cleaning hands

The first step to serving summer foods safely is to start with clean hands. If running water is available, wet your hands, lather them with soap, scrub for 20 seconds, then rinse and dry. If running water is not available, use hand sanitizer or wet towels that contain at least 60 percent alcohol.

Pack perishables safely

When traveling with perishable food to places such as the pool, beach, summer camp, hiking or cookout, always use cold sources in coolers or insulated containers to keep food at a safe cold temperature below 40°F. Options for cooling sources include ice and freezers. Gel packs and frozen drinks (that do not require refrigeration for safety) such as bottled water, iced tea, and juices such as apple and grape. Additional cooling tips:

  • Pack drinks in one cooler and perishable foods in another.
  • A beverage cooler may be opened frequently, causing the temperature inside the cooler to fluctuate and become unsafe for perishable foods.
  • Keep coolers and insulated bags out of the sun. Once outside, place them in the shade.
  • Full coolers or insulated bags will keep perishable foods cold and safe much longer than half-full foods.
  • Place an appliance thermometer (one of the traditional uses of a refrigerator or freezer) in the cooler so you can check to make sure the food stays at 40 degrees F or below.

Stay away from the danger area

the Danger area The temperature range in which bacteria multiply rapidly is between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Danger Zone: Perishable foods, including meat, poultry, sliced ​​fruits and vegetables, and cooked side dishes, should be avoided or kept hot or cold to maintain food safety.

  • Cold foods should be kept at 40 degrees F or below by placing them in refrigerators, coolers, insulated containers, or placing them on ice.
  • Hot foods should be maintained at a temperature above 140°F by placing them on the grill, in hot plates, slow cookers, or warming trays.

Check the temperatures of cold and hot items frequently.

Follow the two-hour rule

Foods that are kept hot or cold outside the danger zone or not kept out for more than two hours (one hour if the temperature is over 90 degrees F) are considered safe to keep. Any other items will be considered unsafe and must be disposed of. When in doubt, throw it out!

If you have questions regarding food safety

Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), via email MPHotline@usda.gov Or live chat at www.ask.usda.gov 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday.

You can access newsletters and other information on the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) website at: www.fsis.usda.gov/newsroom. Follow FSIS on X at @usdafoodsafety Or in Spanish at X @usdafoodsafety_esAnd the USDA on Instagram at @usdagov And Facebook.

US Department of Agriculture

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