Food and Fitness Fundamentals
With summer just around the corner, so comes the anticipation for the classic outdoor barbeque or picnic. Warm and sunny days are a perfect time to pack up a basket and head out for a long energetic hike, a day at the beach, or a nice relaxing afternoon in the park. But before you embark upon your adventure, it is essential to follow food safety guidelines in order to prevent harmful bacteria from growing to dangerous levels that cause food borne illnesses.
Have a plan. After you have created your menu and bought your groceries, do as much preparation at home as possible. Thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables, and prepare the meat, fish or poultry ahead of time. This will help prevent cross contamination later when things are less organized and not available at the off site location. An added bonus is the readiness and ease this creates when finalizing your meal.
Find out more how you can Avoid Picnic Pitfalls and Barbeque Blunders.
Pack your food wisely. Use insulated ice chests to transport food, and place them out of direct sunlight once at your location. Avoid opening coolers often to help ensure cold foods remain below 40 degrees. Separate raw meat, fish and poultry from other foods and wrap securely to avoid leakage and cross contamination.
Avoid The Danger Zone! Keep cold foods cold, hot foods hot. It is critical to keep cold foods at or below 40 degrees, and hot foods at or above 140 degrees. The danger zone temperatures of 40-140 degrees enable harmful bacteria to grow their fastest, especially on hot summer days where they can double in number in as fast as 20 minutes.
Neither hot nor cold foods should be left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours, or 1 hour if the ambient temperature is above 90 degrees. If food has been left out for more than 2 hours, throw it away.
Learn more at USDA Danger Zone
Cook foods thoroughly. Use a thermometer to ensure you have adequate cooking temperatures needed to kill harmful bacteria.
Use two sets of clean platters and utensils. Avoiding cross contamination is critical. Do not use the same platters or utensils for raw meat, fish and poultry as you do for cooked and ready to serve foods.
Learn more at Is it done?
Taking the time to implement these simple yet crucial food safety guidelines will hopefully create a fun filled day to remember rather than an event to regret.