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Carroll County Health Department: Outdoor food safety tips for warm weather

Summer is finally here! Soon it will be time for barbeques and family gatherings. What makes a good party? The food, of course! How can you ensure that the food you are serving will be safe to eat? Follow these recommendations:

Cooler safety

  • Carry cold perishable foods like hamburgers, sausage, and chicken in insulated coolers packed with several inches of ice or frozen gel packs to ensure the temperature stays below 41 degrees at all times.
  • Wrap raw meats securely so that their juices do not cross contaminate ready-to-eat foods. It is recommended to keep raw meats in separate coolers from ready-to-eat foods.
  • Perishable foods, such as luncheon meats, potato and pasta salads must remain cold, below 41 degree at all times.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before packing them in a cooler.

Cooking

  • Marinate foods in the refrigerator prior to transporting on site. Keep sauce separate from raw meat, poultry or seafood and do not reuse marinade.
  • Keep stews, soups and other potentially hazardous foods hot above 135 degrees at all times on the grill or in crock pots.
  • Pack a thermometer to check temperatures.

Serving food

  • Do not reuse platters or utensils that held raw meat, poultry or seafood.
  • Wash your hands before touching or eating food.
  • Never leave food in the “danger zone” (42 degrees to 134 degrees) for more than four hours. Food should not be left in the danger zone for more than one hour if the outdoor temperatures are above 90 degrees.
  • Potentially hazardous cold foods, such as salads and desserts can be placed into a container that is set inside a deep pan filled with ice. Drain the water as ice melts and replace ice frequently.

Safe food temperatures

  • Ready-to-eat commercially processed foods 135 degrees for 15 seconds
  • Raw seafood, fish, roasts and steaks 145 degrees for 15 seconds
  • Raw ground beef, sausage, pork, lamb and veal 155 degrees for 15 seconds
  • Raw poultry and stuffed meats 165 degrees for 15 seconds
  • Reheat any potentially hazardous foods 165 degrees for 15 seconds

For more information, call the Carroll County Health Department at 410-876-4878; or call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 888-674-6854 Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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Cheryl Chaney is program manager, Community Hygiene, Carroll County Health Department.

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