It’s summertime and that brings extended evenings of chasing fireflies and plenty of get-togethers with friends and family which invariably means there will be…FOOD! According to the CDC 1 in 6 Americans get sick every year from consuming contaminated food and drinks and summer is peak season. If you’re hosting or attending an event that involves a smorgasbord of deliciousness, keep in mind these tips to avoid “spoiling” the fun.

  • Wash your hands- before you handle food, either in preparation or eating. You just can’t beat the benefits of soap and warm water to wash away germs. Hand sanitizer would be a good alternative.
  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Specifically, according to the FDA, 40 *F or below for cold dishes and at or above 140 *F for hot dishes. If you’re bringing food to an event, keep refrigerated foods in a separate cooler until meal time. This will free up your host’s refrigerator and avoid any warm up from the kids constantly opening the cooler for drinks. Hot foods can be wrapped and kept in an insulated container as well.
  • Don’t let foods sit out longer than 2 hours, or if the temperature outside is above 90 *F, no longer than 1 hour. Dishes can be kept on ice but make sure to drain off water and add more ice, as needed.
  • Throw away foods that have been left out. Even Aunt Anne’s famous potato salad. It’s just not worth getting food poisoning!
  • Wash friuts and veggies under warm, running water before cutting or serving, even if you aren’t consuming the skin. Bacteria can transfer from the outside when cutting produce.

If you’re the grill master:

  • Check temperatures before serving. Use a meat thermometer to check for appropriate internal temperatures. It may take a little extra time but it’s better than serving up some salmonella for dinner. Your guests will thank you.
  • Toss that marinade. Do not reuse marinade from raw meat as a sauce after the meat has been cooked.
  • Swap out your utensils and plates. Anything that comes into contact with raw meat should be washed in warm, soapy water before being used again with cooked food.

Last, know the symptoms of food borne illnesses, but may you never experience them. Enjoy the dog days of summer and stay well!