Food Safety This Summer
Food Safety This Summer
Summer is the season for grilling and potlucks, but warmer weather encourages the growth of foodborne germs leading to an increase in cases of food poisoning. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 48 million people will get food poisoning this year caused by over 250 different bacteria, viruses, parasites, or toxins. Be sure to follow the tips below to keep your friends and family safe and healthy at your next cookout.
- Separate meat, poultry, and seafood from other food in your shopping cart and grocery bags. Store raw meat on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, away from fresh produce and ready-to-eat foods.
- Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. Never thaw foods on the counter because bacteria can multiply quickly in the parts of the food that reach room temperature.
- Keep food refrigerated until ready to cook or serve. If transporting, keep food below 40°F in an insulated cooler with ice or frozen gel packs.
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food. Be sure to sanitize all work surfaces and utensils after food prep.
- Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running water before peeling.
- Use different cutting boards and knives for fresh fruits and vegetables and for raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.
- Use a food thermometer to ensure meat has reached a temperature hot enough to kill infectious germs. Color or texture is not a reliable way to determine if food is safely cooked.
- 145°F – fish and whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and veal
- 160°F – hamburgers and other ground meat
- 165°F – whole or ground poultry and pre-cooked meats like hot dogs
- Place small portions of leftover food in shallow containers, which allow rapid and even cooling, and refrigerate or freeze as soon as possible. Throw away any food that has been at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.
- Leftovers should be reheated to at least 165°F before consumption. Stir, rotate, or turn foods upside down midway through the microwaving time to even the cooking and eliminate cold spots where harmful bacteria can survive.Check this chart to learn how long different items are safe when stored in the fridge or freezer.
Pregnant women, children under 5, adults over 64, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for developing foodborne diseases. Symptoms of food poisoning – such as nausea, upset stomach, cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever – may occur hours or days after consuming contaminated food. If you experience food poisoning, drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Most people recover without medical treatment, but be sure to see a doctor if you have a fever over 102°F, blood in your stool, or diarrhea that lasts more than 3 days.
If you or someone you know thinks you got sick from food, even if you don’t know what food it was, please report it to your local health department. The environmental health specialist at the Jackson County health department can be reached at (517) 780-7400. Reporting an illness can help public health officials identify a foodborne disease outbreak and keep others from getting sick. The CDC maintains an updated list of foodborne disease outbreaks for your reference.