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Practice Food Safety In the Outdoors

While having fun outside, we can easily forget how the heat of the afternoon sun can quickly affect foods. That's why extra caution in outdoor food handling is essential.

According to the U. S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), it's important to keep foods cold in a refrigerator at 40ºF or below until ready to cook or serve. Once prepared, food should not sit at temperatures above 40ºF longer than 2 hours, 1 hour if the ambient temperature is 90ºF or more. When reheating cold foods, it's important to heat foods to an internal temperature of 165ºF.

Always marinate your meat, poultry or seafood in the refrigerator. Remove it from the marinade just before cooking and discard the marinade. If you need extra marinade for basting, reserve a little before you add it to the food.

Summer grilling can be quite relaxed, but safe-cooking temperatures should still be followed. According to the FDA the following internal temperatures should be used for cooking meat and poultry:

  • Poultry: 165ºF
  • Ground Beef: 160ºF
  • Beef Steaks: 145-160ºF
  • Pork: 160ºF

To determine doneness, remove the piece of meat from the grill using long-handled tongs. Insert an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, away from the bone. If it's not cooked to desired temperature return it to the grill. Fish should be cooked until it's opaque and flaky.

Cleanliness can never be underestimated, especially when you're dealing with external elements. Always wash your hands before handling food, especially if it is uncooked. If a sink isn't handy, keep a supply of antibacterial soap or wipes on hand.

Similarly, always be sure to use clean cookware and serving dishes. Cutting boards can be a sanctuary for germs to hide in, so always give yours a thorough cleaning and replace it as it begins to stain.

If you are planning on saving your leftovers, remember to use some caution. Pack and refrigerate items quickly, as items left in the heat can spoil after just a few hours on a summer's day.

For more food safety information visit fda.gov and www.foodsafety.gov

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