Healthy Living: Safe Food in the Summer 

By- Dr. Jonathan WoodSummer is here! And with the warm weather comes all the fun – – beach, pool, volleyball, little league. barbecues, hiking, picnics, and all the rest. But that same lovely weather can also be a set-up for foodborne illnesses. It is especially important to take precautions and practice safe food handling when preparing perishable foods such as meat, poultry, seafood and egg products. Summer weather can provide a perfect environment for bacteria and germs to multiply rapidly in food and potentially cause illness. A few simple rules can keep you and your family safe, without cutting into all the fun that summer brings.• CLEAN: Wash hands and surfaces often • SEPARATE: Don’t cross-contaminate! • COOK: Cook to proper temperature • CHILL: Refrigerate promptlyCLEAN• Rub-a-DubWash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers and handling pets. For best results, use warm water to moisten hands, then apply soap and rub hands together for 20 seconds before rinsing thoroughly.• Keep your Scene CleanWash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before going on to the next food.• Towel TossConsider using paper towels to clean up kitchen surfaces. When done, throw away the towel. If you use cloth towels, wash them often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.SEPARATE (don’t cross contaminate!)• Take TwoUse one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry and seafood.• Lather UpAlways start with a clean scene – – wash cutting boards, dishes, countertops, and utensils with hot soapy water.• Clean Your PlateNever place cooked food back on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs.• Safely SeparateSeparate raw meat, poultry and seafood from other foods in your grocery shopping cart and shopping bags, and in your refrigerator.• Seal ItTo prevent juices from raw meat, poultry or seafood from dripping onto other foods in the refrigerator, place these raw foods in sealed containers or plastic bags on the bottom shelf of the fridge.• Marinating MandateSauce that is used to marinate raw meat, poultry or seafood should not be used on cooked food unless it is boiled first.COOK• Cook It Right…Know your cooking temperatures. For guidance, check a cookbook or follow this link for an excellent online chart of safe cooking• …And Keep It Hot- Keep it all piping hot before and during serving. – Transport hot foods in insulated thermal containers. Keep containers closed until serving time. – On a buffet table, unless served immediately, hot food should be kept at 140° F or higher. Keep food hot with chafing dishes, slow cookers and warming trays.COOL• Use This Tool to Keep It CoolUse a refrigerator thermometer to be sure the temperature is consistently 40° F or below.• The Chill FactorRefrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared foods and leftovers within two hours of purchase or use. Always marinate foods in the refrigerator.• The Thaw LawNever defrost food at room temperature. Thaw food in the refrigerator. If you will cook food immediately, for a quick thaw, defrost in the microwave or enclose the food in an airtight package and submerge it in cold water.• Divide and ConquerSeparate large amounts of leftovers into shallow containers for quicker cooling in the refrigerator.• Avoid the Pack AttackDo not overstuff the refrigerator. Cold air must circulate to keep food safe.• Rotate Before It’s Too LateUse or discard chilled foods as recommended in the USDA Cold Storage Chart• Don’t Go Too LowAs you approach 32° F, ice crystals can begin to form and lower the quality of foods such as raw fruits, vegetables and eggs. A refrigerator thermometer will help you determine whether you are too close to this temperature.So remember – — – have good summer fun and stay safe with Clean, Separate, Cook, and ChillFor more information about Foodborne Illnesses and how to avoid them, visit one of these excellent web sites: Partnership for Food Safety Handling or