3 Simple Steps for Safe Cookouts
Whether you’re grilling onsite at the salon or at home in the evening or on your day off, you don’t want your team, family or guests to get sick from the food! Remember that warm temperatures are friendly to bacteria.
“Food should not be left out for more than two hours and not more than one hour when it is hotter than 90 degrees outside,” says Amy Strutzel, a registered dietitian at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Illinois, who suggests these three simple steps to ensure that everyone gets nourished, not nauseated or worse.
- Disinfect. Before you start cooking, make sure you have clean hands. If soap and warm water are not available, use hand sanitizer to kill off any unwanted bacteria. “Don’t forget to dry your hands thoroughly as well,” Strutzel adds, “because if they are wet, they spread bacteria more easily.” Also, be sure to disinfect the cooler, tote bag, picnic basket or whatever you are using to transport food.
- Separate. Keep raw meat, fish and poultry apart from other food such as cheeses, fruits and vegetables. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Barbecue and Food Safety Guidelines, “Harmful bacteria present in raw meat and poultry and their juices can contaminate safely cooked food.” Strutzel recommends using one set of utensils and plates to carry the raw food and another to handle and serve the cooked food.
- Monitor. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of your meat, fish or poultry as it cooks. “Eating raw or undercooked poultry or red meat increases your risk for becoming infected with salmonella or E. coli,” Strutzel says. “Symptoms of salmonella include abdominal cramps, fever and diarrhea and begin within 12 to 72 hours of consuming contaminated food. These symptoms can last up to a week and, in certain cases, can be fatal if you have a compromised immune system. E. coli can cause diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps, typically occurring between two and eight days after eating contaminated food and lasting for up to a week.”
Strutzel lists safe internal temperatures:
Steaks and roasts: 145 °F
Pork: 145 ° F
Fish: 145 ° F
Ground Beef: 160 ° F
Chicken: 165 ° F
Have a great, grilled, gratifying summer!