With Memorial Day weekend approaching and all the picnics and barbeques that go along with it, the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency is reminding people to take special precautions to avoid food borne illnesses.
Bacteria can grow quickly if food is left sitting out and heating up in summer temperatures, said Senior Environmental Health Specialist, Kit McClurg, from the Department of Environmental Resources.
“It’s important to take extra precautions and practice safe food handling when preparing, transporting and serving perishable items from raw meat products to potato salad, especially during the summer months.”
Quick Tips for Picnic Site Preparation
1. Outdoor Hand Cleaning - If you don’t have access to running water, simply use a water jug with a spigot, some soap, and paper towels.
2. Display Food on Ice - Foods like chicken salad and desserts in individual serving dishes can be placed deeply into ice making sure the ice level matches the food level in each container when presented on serving tables. Drain off water as ice melts and replace ice frequently.
3. Marinating Mandate - Always marinate food in the refrigerator. Do not re-use sauce that was used to marinate raw meat, poultry, or fish on cooked food. Set aside some of the marinade before adding the meat if you want to use it as sauce later on the cooked food.
4. Where's the Beef? Chicken and Fish? - Hamburgers should be cooked to 160 ºF, while large cuts of beef such as London Broil and steaks may be cooked to 145 ºF for medium rare or to 160 ºF for medium. Poultry must reach a temperature of 165 °F. Fish should be opaque and flake easily. Be sure to use a food thermometer to check for the safe internal temperature. Remember to wash the food thermometer well in between uses.
5. Stay Away from that Same Old Plate - When taking foods off the grill, do not put cooked food items back on the same plate that held raw food, unless it has been washed with hot, soapy water first.
6. Chill Out - Don’t let perishable food sit out longer than two hours, and be sure to throw away any leftovers that have been out for more than two hours. In hot weather (above 90°F), foods should never be out for more than one hour before being refrigerated.
7. Ice Chest Etiquette - A full cooler will maintain its cold temperatures longer than one that is partially filled so it is important to pack plenty of extra ice (block ice works best) to ensure a constant cold temperature. Keep the cooler out of the direct sun.