Summer with safe food

Memorial weekend is the unofficial launch of summer – make sure you know the four basic food safety practices to keep your food safe during warm weather.

With outdoor food events including picnics, BBQs, parades, sporting events and numerous summer outings, now is a great time to think about your summer food safety practices. Warmer temperatures create the perfect environment for bacteria to rapidly multiply if perishable food is not properly handled. This bacterial growth can lead to a foodborne illness. As you plan your summer festivities, make any necessary changes to keep foodborne illness from ruining your summer events.

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

  • Clean: Make sure that all surfaces are clean and hands have been washed for 20 seconds with warm, soapy water before handling food and after handling raw meats, fish or poultry. In areas where handwashing is not available, hand sanitizer can be used.
  • Separate: Prevent cross-contamination by keeping raw meats separate from any raw fruits and vegetables, and ready to eat foods. Make sure to keep foods separated in the refrigerator, cooler and on cutting boards. Remember to replace the BBQ plate that held raw meat with a clean plate for the cooked, ready to eat foods that come off the grill.
  • Cook: Use a food thermometer to ensure food is cooked to the proper temperature to kill bacteria. The recommended minimum internal cooking temperatures are listed below:
    • Ground meat and meat mixtures
      • Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb: 160 degrees Fahrenheit
      • Fresh Cuts Pork, Beef, Veal, Lamb: 145 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Poultry

      • Chicken and turkey, whole: 165 degrees Fahrenheit
      • Duck and goose: 165 degrees Fahrenheit
      • Stuffing (cooked alone or in bird): 165 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Ham, cooked and fresh

      • Ham (raw) plus three minutes stand time: 145 degrees Fahrenheit
      • Pre-cooked (to reheat): 140 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Seafood: 145 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Leftovers and casseroles: 165 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Chill: Summer’s warm temperatures make it difficult to keep cold foods cold. Take special caution to ensure that foods are refrigerated quickly in a refrigerator with the temperature set below 40 degrees. Use coolers or ice chests filled with ice when traveling or taking food away from home for food events. Keep the coolers closed as much as possible and out of direct sunlight. Pack beverages in a separate cooler from the food since the beverage cooler is usually opened more frequently.

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

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