Take the MSU Extension and AgBioResearch Survey to Sharpen Our Focus in English or in Spanish

Kick-off your summer with safe food handling practices

As we head into the summer, now is a great time to evaluate your summer food safety practices.

The Memorial Holiday, kick-off to summer is just around the corner. With outdoor food events including picnic, BBQ’s, snacks at sporting events and numerous other summer outings, now is a great time to think about your summer food safety practices. Warmer temperatures provide the perfect environment for bacteria to rapidly multiply on food that is not properly handled and can lead to foodborne illness. Take steps now to make any necessary improvements and keep foodborne illness from ruining your summer events.

Michigan State University Extension recommends using these four principles for proper food handling to help guide you: Clean, separate, cook and chill. Each area has important tips to keep in mind for safe and fun summer food events.

  • Clean: Make sure that all surfaces are cleaned and hands washed for 20 seconds with warm, soapy water before handling food. In areas where handwashing is not available, hand sanitizer can be used.
  • Separate: Keep raw meats separate from any raw fruits and vegetables and ready to eat foods, to prevent cross contamination. This includes in the refrigerator, in the cooler and on cutting boards. Also, remember to replace the plate that held raw meat from the BBQ grill with a clean plate for the cooked foods.
  • Cook: Use a food thermometer to ensure food is cooked to the proper temperature to kill bacteria. Some of the minimum internal cooking temperatures are listed below:

Ground meat and meat mixtures

Beef, pork, veal, lamb

160 °F

Fresh cuts pork, beef, veal, lamb                   145 °F


Chicken & turkey, whole

165 °F

Duck & goose

165 °F

Stuffing (cooked alone or in bird)

165 °F

Ham, cooked and fresh

Ham (raw) plus three minutes stand time

145 °F

Pre-cooked (to reheat)

140 °F

Seafood                                                               145 °F

Leftovers and casseroles

165 °F

  • Chill: Summers warmer temperatures pose a problem for keeping cold food cold. Take special caution to ensure that foods are refrigerated quickly, and that coolers or ice chests filled with ice are used when traveling, or taking food away from home for food events. Keep the coolers closed as much as possible and out of direct sunlight. Also, pack beverages in a separate cooler from the food since the beverage cooler is usually opened more frequently.

Following these simple principles will help you enjoy a safe summer filled with delicious food events and fun outings with family and friends.

Related Events

Related Articles

Related Resources