Summer outdoor food events and the hazard that accompanies them

Plan ahead for keeping friends and family from getting sick.

Summer brings a slew of activities where friends and families gather together to socialize, eat and celebrate. Weddings, family reunions, class reunions, back yard parties and birthday parties all serve as occasions to bring people together. It also brings opportunities for foodborne illness to occur if precautions are not taken to keep our meals and snacks safe. Planning ahead can make it easy to keep our family and friends safe from foodborne illness.

Plan adequate refrigeration to keep food cold. Provide plenty of coolers and have enough ice on hand in the coolers. Keep coolers out of direct sun; find a shaded area or bring along sun shelter, such as a canopy or portable umbrella stand.

Is there going to be running water for washing hands? Proper and frequent hand washing is very important to stop the spread and growth of microorganisms. Make sure there is soap and disposable towel, such as paper towel. Provide hand sanitizer and hand wipes if there is not running water for hand washing.

Michigan State University Extension recommends always having a food thermometer for taking temperatures of foods that are being prepared on the grill. Safe minimum internal cooking temperatures for meat, poultry and fish:

  • 145 degrees Fahrenheit for steaks, roasts and fish.
  • 160 degrees Fahrenheit for pork, ground beef and egg dishes.
  • 165 degrees Fahrenheit for chicken breasts, whole poultry and any other types of poultry.

Keep track of how long the food is left sitting out on the table. Two hours is the maximum length of time food should be without refrigeration or a heat source to properly keep it cold or hot. If the temperatures outside are above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, limit the time to only one hour. Any food that has been sitting out for longer should be discarded.

The Fight BAC website provides easy and helpful tips for keeping summer meals safe whether you are grilling, hosting an event at your home or picnicking by the lake.

Plan now to have a fun and food safe summer celebration!

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