Following some of the basic steps below will help you have a safe summer (or any time of year) gathering without getting folks sick.
- Clean hands, food contact surfaces, fruits and vegetables.
- To prevent the spread of bacteria, do not wash or rinse raw meat or poultry.
- Separate raw, cooked and ready to eat foods when shopping, preparing or storing foods. No one wants cooked food on the same dish you had raw food. This is especially important for the “grill masters” out there.
- Cook food to a safe temperature to kill bacteria. See The Food Safety and Inspection Service on the USDA website for more information.
- Refrigerate perishable foods promptly and defrost foods properly. Your refrigerator should be below 40 degrees F and food should not be left out at room temperature longer than 2 hours.
- USDA asks folks to avoid unpasteurized milk, raw or partially cooked eggs or foods containing raw eggs, raw or uncooked meat and poultry, unpasteurized juices and raw sprouts. These foods could contain bacteria or other food borne pathogens that consumers could ingest without knowing.
- Lastly, pregnant and nursing women or women who might become pregnant should not eat certain types of fish such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish because of the high mercury levels which can harm their unborn child. They can safely eat up to 12 ounces of other fish and shellfish a week.
For more information on The Food Safety and Inspection Service guidelines, you can download a pdf on food safety. For more information on mercury levels of fish visit the FDA website. Be safe and smart about the food you prepare and serve.