By Connie Colbert
Director, Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic
During the summer, we often have cookouts and outdoor gatherings surrounding food. The warm weather can ripen food faster, exposing us to unwanted illness. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, when temperatures rise, bacteria flourishes. But you can protect your summer outdoor meal.
Here are a few tips to avoid food-borne illnesses:
- Pack away unwanted food: Food left in warm temperatures for more than an hour (especially if the temperature is more than 90 degrees) is more prone to illness-causing bacteria to grow. Leftovers should be wrapped and refrigerated as soon as possible.
- Marinate your meat in the refrigerator. Leaving foods on the counter in a warm room is begging for food poisoning.
- Do not reuse any marinade that has come in contact with raw fish, chicken, poultry or meat.
- Grill your meat well done. Red meats and fish should reach a temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit and poultry should reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit to assure bacteria is wiped out. Invest in a food thermometer to help determine the temperature.
- Raw and cooked foods should never touch the same surface without sanitizing the hot, soapy water.
- Do not mix utensils. Food bacteria can transfer from one utensil to the next if used between uncooked and cooked meats.
- Bring a cooler with plenty of ice or ice packs (a safe temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit). It can be used in place of a refrigerator if one is not available. Place cold items in the cooler and never leave them out.
- Always wash or sanitize your hands. Handwashing is one of the best ways to prevent illness.
Preparation is key. Plan ahead and be aware of the dangers so Montezuma will not get revenge!