Eating outdoors and in warm environments can be a food safety challenge because bacteria and microbes thrive at higher temperatures. It’s important to review a few of these food safety tips to prevent food contamination and food borne illnesses (AKA Montezuma’s Revenge):
- The danger temperature zone for which bacteria grow and multiply is: 40°F – 140°F. Leaving meat at room temperature for too long or out in the sun are two things to avoid. Instead, store raw meat in the refrigerator or in the freezer for later consumption.
- Cooked meats you are serving hot, should be kept at 140°F or higher in chafing dishes, preheated steam tables, hotplates, or warming trays.
- Cooked meats that you are serving cold, should be kept at 40°F or lower. Food can be placed in containers and stored on ice.
- Cook food thoroughly. To kill bacteria present in the food you must cook it to the proper temperature, so grab you thermometer!
- Ground meats, such as ground beef or turkey, meatballs, meatloaf, etc. should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F, checking to make sure the meat is cooked all the way through (no pink spots).
- Poultry such as chicken, duck, and turkey should be cooked to 165°F.
- Ham, pork, beef, lamb and seafood should be cooked to 145°F.
- Fully cooked ham should be reheated to 140°F.
- Wash your hands! When cooking, it is imperative to frequently wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Hand washing helps prevent the spread of bacteria and respiratory and digestive illnesses.