The temperatures are creeping up outside, and this nice weather means that lots of people will want to have outdoor barbecues, picnics, and pot lucks. These can be a total blast, but I often worry about the extra food safety concerns that accompany these rising temperatures.
Here’s what you and your clients can do to combat foodborne illness this summer…
- Remember, the “two hour rule” changes to the “one hour rule” when temperatures creep up above 90 degrees F.
- This means that you should not allow food to sit out at room temperature for longer than one hour.
- Hot temperatures are just right for allowing the bacteria in food to multiply to numbers that could make people sick. This includes foods on picnic tables, buffet lines at family reunions, and bag lunches.
- Double check the temperatures in your refrigerator and freezer.
- Refrigerators should be below 40 degrees F and freezers below zero.
- This helps to prolong the life and the quality of the food.
- Put a cooler and some ice blocks in the trunk of your car when you go grocery shopping.
- Even 20 minutes in a hot car eats into that “one hour” rule.
- Refrigerate all perishable foods immediately upon getting home.
- When doing errands, make the grocery store your last stop.
- Pick up frozen and refrigerated foods just before you hit the checkout lines.
- If you’re going to a farmers’ market, farm stand, or pick-your-own field, take a cooler along too. Don’t store fresh produce in the trunk of your car.
- If you don’t finish your meal at a restaurant, make sure there’s a cooler in the car for any food you bring home. The “one hour rule” goes into effect here too!
- Don’t get careless with picnics and other outdoor food events. Unless you are absolutely sure about the safety of the food, throw away any leftovers.
Living can be easy in the summertime, but food safety takes a little more effort and planning. Have a wonderful and food-safe summer!
By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University
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