Stay healthy while enjoying summer fun

Summer activities increase hazardous environments for food. Avoid the temperature danger zone and risk for bacterial growth on food.

Fight Bac! Food safety on the move poster.

Fight Bac! Food safety on the move poster.

Michigan State University Extension and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminds food consumers that foodborne illness peaks during the hot and often humid summer months. Natural causes of bacteria from soil, wind and water, as well as from people and animals can grow faster during the warm, summer months, especially when temperatures are in the temperature danger zone (90-110 degrees Fahrenheit), which promotes bacteria to grow even faster. These natural causes of bacteria can grow rapidly on food causing illness when eaten.

As warm weather and summer activities like camping, barbeques and picnics increase, hazards to food may be present. Food should not be in the temperature danger zone because of its increased risk for bacterial growth. To keep you and your family safe from illness follow these tips from MSU Extension and the USDA.

  • Clean: wash hands and surfaces often. Unwashed hands are a prime cause of foodborne illness. Wash your hands with warm, soapy water before handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers and handling pets.
  • Separate: don’t cross-contaminate. Cross-contamination during preparation, grilling and serving food is a prime cause of foodborne illness. When packing the cooler for an outing, wrap raw meats securely; avoiding raw meat juices from coming in contact with ready-to-eat food. To minimize this risk consider packing raw meats in a separate cooler.
  • Cook to proper temperatures. Food safety experts agree that food is safely cooked when it is heated for a long enough time and at a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Take your thermometer with you. Meat and poultry cooked on a grill often browns very fast on the outside, be sure that meats are cooked thoroughly. Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook meat to higher temperatures. Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb and veal to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit as measured with a food thermometer. Cook all poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Chill: refrigerate promptly. Storing food at an unsafe temperature is a prime cause of foodborne illness. Keep cold food cold! This means temperatures at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Place food in containers on ice. Cold, refrigerated perishable food like lunch meats, cooked meats, chicken and potato or pasta salads should be kept in an insulated cooler packed with several inches of ice, ice packs or containers of frozen water.
  • Leftovers: food left out of refrigeration for more than two hours may not be safe to eat. When the temperature reaches 90 degrees Fahrenheit and above, food should not be left out for more than one hour. Play it safe; once you finish eating, put perishable leftovers back on ice so they do not spoil or become unsafe to eat.

The Food safety on the move poster is a fun poster you can print to keep on your refrigerator as a helpful reminder. Following these tips can help you and your family to keep your food safe while you enjoy fun summer activities.

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