Summer Food Safety

Contaminated food can put a damper on your summer plans

(RxWiki News) Summer is the season of grilling and eating outdoors. Take these seven steps to keep food poisoning from putting a damper on you summer plans.

Each year, 1 in 6 Americans gets sick from eating contaminated food. Here's the problem: During the summer months, when the temperatures rise, the chance for food poisoning increases. That's because the warmer temperatures allow foodborne germs to flourish.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the foods that are more likely than others to lead to food poisoning include the following:

  • Chicken, beef, pork and turkey
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Raw milk and products made from it
  • Raw eggs
  • Seafood and raw shellfish
  • Sprouts
  • Raw flour

Follow these steps to reduce your risk of food poisoning this summer:

1) Store foods appropriately before grilling.

Keep meat, poultry and seafood in the fridge until they are ready to be grilled. When transporting these items, keep them below 40 degrees Fahrenheit in an insulated cooler.

2) Wash your hands.

The first thing to remember when cooking or eating is to always wash your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds. If this is not possible, try your best to keep your hands clean.

3) Separate your food.

Make sure to separate raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs from ready-to-eat foods. These kinds of raw foods can spread germs easily.

Separating foods is recommending when buying, storing and cooking. For example, always use separate cutting boards and plates for raw meat, poultry and seafood. Furthermore, do not reuse marinade that touched raw meat.

4) Cook to the correct temperature.

When cooking, the color of the meat does not indicate safety. The only safe way to tell whether food is fully (and safely) cooked is to use a food thermometer.

According to the CDC, these are the recommended temperatures for each type of food:

Food Temperature
Whole cuts of beef, pork, veal and lamb 145°F
Ground meats like beef and pork 160°F
Poultry (ground chicken and turkey) 165°F
Leftovers and casseroles 165°F
Fin fish and fresh ham (raw) 145°F

5) Use the right tools.

Avoid using a wire bristle brush to clean the grill. The wire bristles in these cleaning brushes may come loose and get stuck in the food while you're cooking. This can lead to mouth and throat injuries. If you will be using this type of cleaning brush, carefully look for wire bristles before grilling.

6) Keep food hot.

After grilling and until you serve, store hot foods at 140°F or warmer.

7) Store your leftovers properly.

Quickly store your leftovers in a refrigerator. The rule of thumb is to refrigerate perishable food within two hours. However, if the outdoor temperature is above 90°F, refrigerate the food within one hour.

Ask your local pharmacist any questions you have about staying safe this summer.

Written by Anyssa Garza, PharmD, BCMAS