Food Safety in Warm Weather is important
This time of year, as the weather gets warmer we move our cooking and eating outdoors, especially with Memorial Day coming up this weekend. It is a great time for early garden produce from Farmer's Markets and to enjoy lighter menus. But it is important to have good food safety habits when we are dealing with food and hot weather. Remember, those who are young or very old are at a higher risk for foodborne illness. Here are some food safety reminder tips for eating and cooking outdoors.Be sure to keep food appropriately chilled. If it belongs in the refrigerator, it belongs in the cooler when outdoors.
- Food needs to be completely chilled before it goes into the cooler. Otherwise that warm food will bring up the temperature in the cooler and never become fully chilled.
- Make sure the coolers are generous in size so that there is plenty of space for lots of ice and ice packs.
- Be generous with the use of ice in the cooler and/or be certain the ice packs are frozen solid.
- Store food in small containers so that the food remains chilled. Take food out in small batches to place on the picnic table; the extras stay in the cooler.
- Have a drinks-only cooler since it will be opened more frequently.
- Keep coolers in the shade or under the picnic tables.
Check the temperatures!
- Cold foods: 40 degrees or less
- Hot foods: 140 degrees or more
- Food brought out of the cooler can stay out in the warm outdoor temperature for no more than one hour.
Be food-safe when grilling:
- Marinate plant and animal foods in the refrigerator or cooler.
- Place raw meats, chicken and fish in their own coolers so that raw juices do not contaminate other foods.
- Don't reuse platters or utensils that have held or touched raw meats; avoid cross contamination.
Moving your food preparation and cooking outdoors can be risky. Cleanliness always applies whether in your kitchen or in the back yard. Have disposable handy wipes available for easy clean up. Be food-safe, especially outdoors in the summertime weather. For additional food safety information, check out the Food and Drug Administration website: www.fda.gov.
About the Author
Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.
By: Rita Smith, RD