Memorial Day marks the first outdoor summer celebration for much of the United States and that means it’s the first time many of us will be at the grill again in quite some time.
If you’re celebrating, it’s good to review these important outdoor food safety tips to keep everyone safe this Memorial Day weekend.
Wash your hands
It is important to follow proper hand washing steps before, during and after food preparation to prevent bacteria from transferring from your hands to your meal.
According to a recent USDA consumer study, 56% of participants did not attempt to wash their hands while preparing meals. This is a significant drop in handwashing attempts compared to previous years of research.
In addition to poor handwashing attempts, approximately 95% of participants failed to wash their hands properly. The most common reason in the study for handwashing failure was not scrubbing your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, followed by not getting your hands wet with water at first. time.
There are five steps to proper hand washing: wet hands, lather with soap, scrub for 20 seconds, rinse and dry.
Use a food thermometer
Always use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of your food to determine if it is safe to eat. The thermometer should be inserted into the thickest part of the meat, or through the side or burgers, for the most accurate temperature reading.
Use a food thermometer to make sure the following foods have reached their safe internal temperature:
Steaks, chops and roasts of beef, pork, lamb and veal: 145 degrees F with a 3 minute rest
- Fish: 145 degrees F
- Egg dishes: 160 degrees F
- Ground meats (beef, pork, lamb, veal, venison, etc.): 160 degrees F
- All poultry (whole or ground): 165 degrees F
Separate raw meats, poultry and seafood from RTE foods
If you plan to cook for the holiday weekend, indoors or outdoors, separate raw meats, poultry, and seafood from other ready-to-eat (RTE) foods. Use one cooler for raw meats and poultry and another for RTE foods like fruits, vegetables, cheese and desserts. Take two sets of plates and utensils for handling raw meats and for serving cooked foods to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
watch the heat
Summer weather can be hot and humid, which means food won’t stay safe as long as it would indoors. When the outside temperature is above 90 degrees F, perishable foods such as meat and poultry, cold dips and salads, or cut fruits and vegetables are only safe on the table for one hour.
Keeping cold foods cool is an important step in ensuring food safety and health, so keep them on ice, in coolers, or in your fridge and freezer.
Just like cold foods, hot perishable foods should be kept warm, above 140 degrees F, until consumed. You can easily do this by moving these items to the side of your grill away from the main heat source, rather than removing them completely from the grill.
Bags of chips, trays of fruit, condiments and other foods can carry pathogens through cross-contamination by people if they don’t wash their hands.
Norovirus can be spread through food and also in swimming pools, and ponds, lakes and streams can be breeding grounds for E. coli. Touching playground equipment in parks and backyards can result in bird droppings on hot dogs, hamburgers and buns.
Parents should ensure children wash their hands properly and use hand sanitizer before eating.
(To sign up for a free Food Safety News subscription, click here.)