I don’t know about you guys, but this heat has been killing me! I’m already eager for Fall to get here. This heat wave is good for one thing though… pool parties! And you know what’s even better than a pool party? A cookout pool party! If you’re anything like me and my family, you know that a party isn’t REALLY a party until someone’s getting down on the grill and the cooler’s been fully stocked. But before you plan your next party, there is one important thing we need to cover: food safety.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), foodborne illnesses causes 48 million sicknesses, 120,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths per year in the United States. Those numbers indicate a serious public health problem. Fortunately, this public health problem can be avoided by following a few easy tips:
Use CLEAN utensils and plates when taking food off the grill. Although it may be tempting to use the same plate you brought the food out with, it’s extremely dangerous. Raw meat contains bacteria that can lead to Salmonella or E. coli poisoning. Also, don’t mix your meats! Keep different raw meats separated.
Don’t leave perishable food items out for longer than 2 hours if the temperature is at or below 90 ⁰F. If the temperature is higher than 90 ⁰F (which is likely), only leave items out for an hour MAX (USDA). Extra tip: keep a cooler outside so you can easily transfer foods to a cool source without missing any of the action!
Keep cold food cold. Colder foods should be stored in coolers or containers at a temperature of 40 ⁰F or lower. In addition, use a separate cooler for drinks. If you keep your food in a cooler that is opened too often your food won’t stay at the proper temperature.
When cooking/grilling, ensure your meat is fully cooked by using a food thermometer. Food temperature is a big contributor to foodborne illness.
Following these easy tips can help you keep your family happy and healthy at every cookout this summer! If you’d like more information about food safety or how you can avoid foodborne illness, don’t hesitate to call our office during normal business hours (Monday-Friday; 8AM-4PM) at 304-265-1288, or by visiting our website at WWW.GTCHDWV.ORG. Our Registered Sanitarian, Jeff Kiger, is available to answer all of your questions. Food safety information is also provided when you register for our Food Safety Course through StateFoodSafety.com.