Summer is here and with it, parties, picnics, and lots of grilling outside–in the heat. Needless to say, preparing and serving food in the heat of the summer requires special attention to safety. It’s easy to get caught up in the fun of the moment and overlook the potato salad that has been sitting in the bowl, the hamburgers that have not been eaten, or the fresh caught crab that was turned into a delicious dip hours ago.
Most of us are aware of the basics:
• Always wash hands before handling or eating any food and always immediately after handling raw foods
• Never reuse plates or utensils if they have touched raw foods
• When marinating meat, keep some marinade in reserve before placing on meat, if it is to be used later
• Always use separate cutting boards/plates/serving platters and utensils for raw foods and ready-to-eat foods
• Keep perishable food cold until ready to cook
• Always thaw frozen food in refrigerator, microwave, or in water. If using microwave or water method, cook immediately
• Use a food thermometer to cook meat to minimum internal temperature
• When pre-cooking raw food prior to grilling, grill immediately
In addition, here are a few safety tips which you may not be aware of:
• Use the grill rack to keep cooked foods hot rather than putting on a platter
• Use smaller containers for at-risk foods and replenish with fresh ones as needed
• Keep some food appropriately heated/cooled inside until needed for late arrivals or second servings
• Organize coolers to separate perishables and non-perishables to minimize opening and to maintain cool temperature inside for perishables
• 40° F – 140°F is the danger zone for food. Do not expose food for more than 2 hours at any time or 1 hour if temperatures are above 90°F
Many summertime foods include seafood, mayonnaise, eggs, and dairy products. Appetizers and dips are easy to prepare and good to eat, however, they can easily become the source of discomfort later. If these foods are on your outdoor entertaining menu, make sure to have the proper serveware. Use serving pieces which have a reservoir for ice to keep cold food chilled and make sure to replenish the ice as needed. For those which require heat, use a warming tray or chafing units with sterno.
Summertime entertaining is all about fun. Don’t let spoiled food ruin your party. Take extra precautions to keep everyone safe, happy, and making great memories.