Keep your food safe in the heat
The warmer summer months are ideal for outdoor picnics and barbecues. Unfortunately, many picnic foods -- such as potato salad, mayonnaise, and chicken salad -- provide a perfect environment for bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
Here are some things you can do to make sure that your family and friends enjoy the summer eating season without any food-related illnesses:
- To keep foods safe, refrigerators should stay at 41° F (5° C) or less. If your refrigerator is not cooling food properly, get it fixed -- or buy a new one -- before the hot weather really sets in.
- Hot foods should be refrigerated as soon as possible (within two hours after cooking). Allow foods to cool and then refrigerate in a well-covered container. Throw out food that's been standing for more than two hours.
- Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food -- especially raw meat, poultry, and fish.
- When cutting vegetables and other items, use a separate cutting board for raw meat (including poultry and fish). Also, thoroughly clean cutting boards with hot water and soap between uses - if you don't, the raw meat's bacteria-containing juices may transfer to other food items.
- If you marinate meat, do it in the refrigerator. It's a good idea to use plenty of vinegar or lemon juice to help kill bacteria. Discard marinade immediately after using it -- it contains raw juices that may harbor bacteria. If you want to use the marinade as a dip or sauce, reserve a portion before adding raw meat, or heat it thoroughly to kill any bacteria before use.