Summertime cooking

by Lyle Karasiuk

The barbeque is one of those summertime appliances we certainly can not live without. At the lake or on the backyard the smell of barbeque is a summertime favorite. In our haste to get the meal on the go we might forget some food safety which unfortunately leads to illness.

Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often to avoid the spread of bacteria.

  • Wash your hands with hot, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before handling food, and after handling raw meats or poultry, using the bathroom, changing diapers, or touching pets.
  • When camping, or going on a picnic, find out if there will be a source of clean water. If not, bring water for preparation and cleaning, or pack disposable wipes and/or sanitizing lotions and paper towels.
  • Take clean plastic bags or containers to store leftover food.
  • Always wash raw fruits and vegetables in clean water. You cannot tell whether foods carry surface bacteria by the way they look, smell, or taste.

Separate: Keep raw foods separate from cooked foods to avoid cross-contamination.

  • When you pack a cooler for an outing, wrap raw meats and poultry securely, and put them on the bottom to prevent juices from dripping onto other foods.
  • Wash all plates, utensils, and cutting boards that touched or held raw meat or poultry before using them again for cooked foods.

Cook: Make sure you kill harmful bacteria by cooking food until it reaches the proper temperature.

  • Don’t guess! Take a digital instant-read food thermometer along to check when meat and poultry are safe to eat. The safe temperatures for cooked foods are:
  • 71° C (160° F) for ground beef
  • 74° C (165° F) for leftover food
  • 85° C (185° F) for whole poultry – If you must check more than once, clean the thermometer before using it again.
  • Eat cooked food while it’s still hot. Remember, bacteria can grow when food can cool down slowly.

Chill: Keep cold food cold. Letting food sit at unsafe temperatures puts you at risk for food borne illnesses.

  • Perishable foods that are normally in the refrigerator, such as luncheon meats, cooked meat, chicken, and potato or pasta salads, must be kept in an insulated cooler with freezer packs or blocks of ice to keep it at 4° C (40° F) or below.
  • Refrigerate or freeze food the day before you pack it for a trip.
  • When packing a cooler, put your meat or poultry on the bottom, and then pack food in reverse order, so that the foods packed on top are the ones you expect to use first.
  • Keep the cooler in the coolest part of the car, and place it in shade or shelter, away from direct sunlight. Keep the cooler closed as much as possible.
  • Consider using one cooler for beverages and another for perishable foods, since the beverage cooler is likely to be opened more frequently.
  • Put leftovers back in the cooler as soon as you are finished eating.
  • Discard all perishable foods once the ice or freezer packs in your cooler have melted.
  • The simple rule is: When in doubt, throw it out.

Have a safe summer picnic or barbeque! Here’s something you might not have thought of. Your barbecue brush with those small little metal bristles is a safety hazard. They can and do break off sticking to your grill and ultimately your food. Ouch if swallowed you might be spending your time in the emergency room. Toss those metal barbecue brushes away. There are plenty of other safe choices. Enjoy your summer!