The warm and sunny summer weather calls for outdoor picnics and get-togethers. Did you know that the warm and humid summer weather is perfect for bacteria to multiply and spread rapidly in food if not handled safely, leading to foodborne illness? To stay safe from foodborne illness during the fun-filled summer months, follow these food safety tips when outdoors:
Keep hot food hot and cold food cold
Place cold food in a cooler with ice, stored at or below 5oC, and hot food in an insulated container, above 60oC to avoid the rapid growth of bacteria. Limit the number of times you open the cooler or the insulated box, to avoid temperature loss.
Securely wrap raw meat, seafood, and poultry and store them separately, below 5oC. If their juices come in contact with ready-to-eat or cooked food, they cause contamination of food and lead to food poisoning. Storing them separately helps you avoid such incidents.
Utensils and serving dishes
Wrap and store utensils and serving dishes hygienically. Handle them with clean hands and do not reuse them. Have clean utensils/platter ready at the grilling/serving site. This helps you maintain food hygiene and avoid contamination.
Discard contaminated food
Food that has been sitting out in the warm temperature, for a long time (more than 2 hours) after serving, could be loaded with bacteria and is not safe to consume. Discard it to be safe, and avoid food poisoning.
You cannot tell whether your food is safe by its appearance, smell, or taste. If it is not handled safely, or when in doubt, it is safer to throw it out, instead of regretting it after falling sick.
Cook food thoroughly
Cooking food thoroughly is imperative to destroy any harmful bacteria in food. Don’t resort to serving food that has raw or undercooked eggs. Avoid reheating food more than once and bring sauces, gravies, and soups to a boil when reheating.
Wash your hands
Wash your hands thoroughly with water and soap, before handling food, after using the washroom, handling waste, handling pets, and after handling raw food. If not washed properly, hands can be a source of contamination as they carry bacteria from different areas that are touched often.
These tips will help you keep your food safe when you are outdoors on a warm summer day and have a fun-filled day without getting sick with foodborne illness.
How do you ensure safe food handling when on a picnic outdoors? Do share your ideas in the comments.