Outdoor summer gatherings with family and friends are a wonderful way to enjoy the weather. But when snacks and meals are served on a warm day, we need to be especially cautious about food safety. Food may still smell and look safe to eat after being out at room temperature for hours but dangerous bacteria may be lurking. Thousands of people experience food poisoning every year and some cases are fatal. If you or a loved one was the victim of a serious food poisoning case, you may want to seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer.
Reduce food safety risks such as cross-contamination with these Summer Food Safety Tips:
- Always keep raw and cooked foods separated during food preparation
- Use separate cutting boards and knives
- Wash your hands in between preparing raw and foods meant for cooking
- Wait until the end of your grocery shopping trip to pull refrigerated items such as meat and milk. Put raw meat and fish into a plastic bag before placing in cart.
- Pack cold items in bags together and place in the coolest part of your car.
- If you are planning to make a stop or live more than 30 minutes from the grocery store, bring a cooler with ice during summer months to store perishable foods when driving.
- Unpack cold items into the fridge and freezer as soon as you get home.
- Package and freeze meat and fish that won’t be used within two days.
- When using meat or fish that was previously frozen, defrost it completely to prevent uneven cooking.
- The safest way to de-thaw meat or fish is in the refrigerator over 24 hours. If you do not have time to wait, place food in its packaging in a deep container and cover with cold Check frequently and once it has de-thawed, cook right away or place back in the fridge.
- Cook meats to their recommended internal temperatures. Use a clean meat thermometer inserted into the center of the meat for an accurate reading. (Always clean between uses).
- Poultry: 180 degrees F
- Hamburger: 160 degrees F
- Beef, veal, lamb steaks and chops: 145 degrees F
- Pork: 160 degrees F
- In hot weather, do not let food sit out for more than one hour unless it is being kept cool or warm.
- A cooler can be used to keep food cool but also warm by lining the cooler with a heavy kitchen towel for extra insulation and placing well wrapped hot foods inside. Ideally you would use a cooler that has just enough space for the food inside.
- Never reuse marinades that have come into contact with raw meat or fish.
- Do not partially grill meat or fish to use later; you should always cook it thoroughly to ensure that bacteria are destroyed.
- Once meat or fish is cooked place it on a clean plate, never on the same plate that held the raw version.
- Mayonnaise spoils easily and is a common ingredient in party dips. Keep these dips on ice or place back in the refrigerator within one hour.
- Discard foods that have been sitting at room temperature for hours. If the item was kept in a cooler and there is still ice left in the cooler when you get home it should be safe to put back in your refrigerator.
- Pack food from the refrigerator right into the cooler and place the foods that you will be using last in the bottom.
- As much as possible, keep coolers in the shade once they are packed. Also, keep cooler lids closed and avoid unnecessary openings.
- Try using a separate cooler for drinks to avoid constant opening of the food cooler.
- Replenish ice in the food cooler as it melts.
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