/ Nutrition

5 Steps to Safe Food Handling During the Summer Months

Foodborne illness or “food poisoning” can be costly in healthcare dollars, lives, and food waste.  The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates the financial cost of foodborne illness is a whopping $15.6 billion every year. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports around 1 in 6 Americans will be sickened annually by contaminated food and beverages. It is estimated that 3,000 people die of foodborne illness every year in this country. Adults aged 65 years and older, pregnant women, individuals with weakened immune systems, and children aged 5 years and younger are at a higher risk of getting food poisoning. We all need to consider taking extra precautions during the summer months as bacteria thrive in high temperatures.

The keys to basic food safety are keeping foods clean and separate, cooking to the right temperature, and storing foods properly. We want you and your family to be safe and thus have compiled a few basic tips to put into practice while protecting against foodborne illness.

Your hands…with soap for 20 seconds before and after touching food, or if you sneeze or cough.

In your kitchen…often with hot, soapy water. Wash all surfaces that touch food.

Your food…with cool water, not soap. Rinse all fruits and vegetables, peels included. Dry with a clean towel.

In the fridge… avoid “the temperature danger zone,” between 41-140 degrees, where bacteria reproduce the quickest.

Set the temperature… of your freezer to 0 degrees F or below…. Of your refrigerator between 32-40 degrees F.

Raw foods… such as meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. Keep these away from ready-to-eat foods.

Cooking tools… such as knives, cutting boards, and utensils. Wash thoroughly with hot, soapy water between uses.

Plates… that touch raw foods. Wash plates that touched raw foods right after use.        

Meat, poultry, and seafood to safe temperatures… use a food thermometer! See the chart below for proper cooking temperatures.

Beef, pork, lamb 145°F
Ground meats 160°F
Seafood 145°F
Poultry 165°F
Microwaved or reheated foods 165°F

Fresh leftovers in the freezer or refrigerator… within 2 hours of cooking completion, 1 hour in the summer. Set your refrigerator at or below 40°F and your freezer at 0°F.

Bonus Tips

  • Refrigerate or freeze perishable foods within 2 hours of shopping; 1 hour in the summer heat.
  • Avoid raw eggs, seafood, shellfish, and poultry to avoid foodborne illness, especially if you are immuno-compromised.
  • Change cleaning cloths and sponges often.
  • If you run out of dish soap, you can use white vinegar and warm water to clean.

Helpful Resources

For more details and information on food safety, please visit the CDC or FDA websites below:

Watch our Food Safety Tips from our Kitchen

5.23.24 / Nutrition

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