Summer picnics, reunions, tailgate parties, camping trips, or maybe even a good ol’ backyard barbecue or cookout—these all offer us a chance to have fun and eat food with family and friends outdoors. But beware: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), warm weather gives bacteria more opportunity to contaminate food.
In addition, says the CDC, salmonella illness is more common in the summer. This bacteria is a regular cause of food poisoning, and during the past 15 years salmonella infections have remained high.
To avoid an episode of food poisoning, or some other nasty foodborne illness, experts from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offer this advice:
- Wash hands before, during and after food preparation.
- Wipe down surfaces.
- Defrost meats in the refrigerator or microwave.
- Marinate steaks, chops and other meats in the icebox (boil marinades first if you’ll reuse them).
- Separate raw and cooked foods as well as the plates and utensils used to hold and serve them.
- Cook and refrigerate foods at the correct temperatures (usually below 40 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Also, don’t leave foods (cooked or store-bought) unrefrigerated for longer than two hours, and if it’s 90 degrees or hotter, cut that down to one hour.
- Unsure if it’s OK to eat? Just toss it!