Chef Caitlin’s Corner: Summertime Food Safety
Picnics, beach lunches, cookouts, and hot temperatures; these activities are a lot of fun, but they may can spell trouble for the food we eat. I’ve blogged about food safety for your lunch box, but now let’s talk about summertime food safety. Summer presents some challenges to keeping food safe. Here are some tips on handling foods to keep you healthy this summer.
- Fruits and Veggies: The more the better, but do you know you have to wash them? Wash all fresh fruits and vegetables with cool tap water before you dig in; even ones that you’re going to peel. Rinse off cantaloupe and watermelon before you cut it to avoid getting the bacteria from the skin into the fruit.
- Hot Temperatures: If you’re eating al fresco (outdoors), don’t leave food items that need refrigeration out for long periods of time. Ideally, these foods shouldn’t be out for more than one hour. This includes mayonnaise-based salads such as potato salad or egg salad, dairy based dips, meats, and cheeses. Bring coolers with icepacks to pack leftovers, or wrap them up and put them in the fridge. If you’re marinating meat, marinate in the refrigerator. Also, never allow foods to thaw on the countertop – bacteria love room temperature. Thaw foods under cold running water, in the microwave, or in the refrigerator.
- Keep It Separate: Keep cooked foods and raw foods separate. If you bring raw chicken or meat out to the grill, get a new plate to bring the cooked foods to the table. Use different cutting boards for meats and foods that you don’t need to cook such as salads and breads. Pack coolers and refrigerators properly with raw meats on the bottom, then dairy, then ready-to-eat foods (sandwiches, salads, washed vegetables) on top. That way you won’t get any chicken juice leaking down on your veggie tray.
- Clean: Anytime you’re handling food, you must make sure you wash your hands properly with soap and water. Be aware of what you touch while you’re preparing food. If you’re going inside and outside frequently, wash your hands after touching doorknobs; they’re very germy! Make sure the containers you’re storing or serving food in are clean as well.
Don’t be afraid to speak up if you see food being left out too long or if you see raw foods and ready to eat foods being mishandled. For more information, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics just released a really cool app (“Is My Food Safe?”) about food safety. You can also check out homefoodsafety.org to learn more about staying safe at your favorite food outings this summer.
Here’s a refreshing fruit salad recipe to bring to your next cookout. Just remember to rinse off all the fruits before cutting them up and keep it out of refrigeration for no longer than 1 hour, and you’ll be good to go!
Summer Time Fruit Salad
- ½ fresh pineapple-peeled, cored, and cubed
- 3 kiwis, peeled and slice
- 1 cup red grapes, sliced in half
- 1 pint of strawberries, hulled and sliced
- ½ cantaloupe, peeled and cubed
- ½ pint of blueberries
- ½ pint of raspberries
- 3 cups watermelon, peeled and cubed
- 5 mint leaves, cut into thin strips
- Place all fruit in a clean bowl.
- Sprinkle mint on top