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Summer Safe Cooking Tips

By Sara Butler

Enjoying food outside is part of the essence of summer. But with the summer sun comes some special concerns when it comes to food safety. Not taking steps to keep your food safe can make you vulnerable to foodborne illness – and that’s no fun! Here are some tips to help you stay safe when eating outdoors at your next barbecue or picnic.

Pack Your Picnic Smart

You have to make sure you separate any raw meat from other food products, and always keep the things you’re bringing cool on ice. Fill a cooler with ice or ice packs to transport the food. Keep the cooler in the shade if you can and try not to open it. The food will stay colder the longer it’s full. Remember, partially filled coolers won’t stay cold as long, so as you take food out you must account for this.

When You’re Grilling

The same rules apply for cooking on the grill as they do on the stovetop. Raw meat needs to be kept separate, and on separate cutting boards, from other foods. Also, never allow raw meat to just sit in the sun. It needs to be cold until it’s placed on the grill.

When cooking, use a meat thermometer to check that meat is cooked to the proper temperature. Pork, beef, veal, and lamb are done at about 145 degrees Fahrenheit; ground meats need to be at least at 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Chicken should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit or above. And never re-use any plates or utensils that touched raw meat.

After You Eat

After everyone has filled their bellies, most people hang out to shoot the breeze around the picnic table; just don’t leave any leftovers out in the breeze as you’re doing this. Anything you plan on keeping needs to be refrigerated within two hours. If it’s above 90 degrees out, that time frame shrinks to one hour.

One idea for a cookout that can help reduce the risk of food poisoning is to set out smaller dishes of an item instead of one big dish full of it. That way, you can replenish it as needed and leave the bulk of it in the refrigerator – or in the oven if it’s a hot item -- in order to keep it at a safe temperature.

Have fun when you're gathering together outside and enjoying the nice weather, but remember to keep everyone safe by remembering food safety rules!

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Brookfield, Wis. 


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