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Summer Food Safety: Food Poisoning is no Picnic

No matter how healthy the food at a summer BBQ or party, there could still hidden dangers – only not to your waistline.  The heat and humidity can turn your favorite foods into veritable petri dishes. With a staggering rise in food poisoning and related illnesses during the summer months, make sure you are taking the proper precautions to keep your friends and family safe from those unseen food borne bugs.  Here are some CalorieKing tips:

Keep Clean

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water; always remember to do so before and after handling meat and other foods.  Bring supplies to clean your hands and surfaces when eating outside or
    Wash Your Hands for Summer Food Safety

    Image: Scott Chan/

    away from home.

  • Make sure you wash and dry your veggies and fruits carefully.  Outbreaks of e coli have been linked to “dirty” vegetables around the globe.
  • Avoid contamination from meat by using separate utensils, cutting boards and plates for raw meats, washing thoroughly after use.  Never reuse these utensils, boards or plates for any other purpose before washing and keep an eye on others as they prepare food to ensure safety.
  • Make sure raw meat has been wrapped thoroughly and stored separately from other picnic items in the cooler during transport to avoid raw juices from cross contaminating.

Keep it Cool!

  • Make sure you transport all items in a cooler or ice chest; refill with ice often and keep the lid closed to keep the temperature down.
  • Keep your food in the cooler until you are ready to cook or serve; never leave anything sitting in the sun (including your cooler!).
  • Never leave any food sitting out for more than two hours MAXIMUM; above 90° and that turns into one hour. Ideally ice down your foods as you go along and keep them covered.  Your dips, side dishes and even some desserts are prime breeding grounds for food poisoning if left out!
  • Don’t forget your meats – after they’ve been cooked, remember to either keep them iced or pack them up as quickly as you can.

Summer Food Safety

Image: Bulldogza/

Cook it Right!

  • Remember to cook your meat thoroughly – bring along a meat thermometer to make sure you get it right.  At a minimum, cook to the below temperatures – higher if your preferences dictate!

145° for all beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops and roasts
160° for all ground beef, pork, lamb and veal items
165° for all poultry
Don’t cook the meats partially at home in order to finish up at the BBQ or park; in between temperatures are the perfect breeding grounds for bacteria.  Again, chill leftover meats down as soon as possible.

If you have any doubts about the food at your backyard party, always err on the side of caution.  Food poisoning is a one take-away from a party you can do without.  To learn all about food safety visit the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service site.