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Summer Food Safety From USDA

Summer is a great time for picnics, camping, and even outdoor gatherings at home.  Food safety in the summer includes dealing with both hot and cold foods.  The USDA offers several food safety tips, beginning with hand washing.

Make sure you wash your hands before handling foods that will be served to others.  Also, remember to wash your hands after handling raw meats so you don’t contaminate other food items.

When cooking raw meats, make sure you cook the items to the recommended temperature to kill any bacteria that could cause health concerns.

When packing you items for transport, always use cold sources in coolers or insulated containers to keep food at a safe cold temperature below 40 F.  Additional cooler tips:

  • Pack beverages in one cooler & perishables in another cooler.
  • Keep coolers and insulated bags out of the sun. Once outside, place them in the shade.
  • Full coolers or insulated bags will keep your perishable foods cold and safe for much longer than half-full ones.
  • Place an appliance thermometer (one traditionally used for the refrigerator or freezer) in the cooler so you can check to be sure the food stays at 40 F or below.

Keep foods out of the danger zone between 40 and 140 F. Perishable foods, including meat and poultry, sliced fruits and vegetables, and cooked side dishes, should avoid the Danger Zone or be kept hot or cold to maintain food safety.

  • Cold foods must be kept at 40 F or below by placing them in the refrigerator, coolers, insulated containers, or nestled over ice.
  • Hot foods (once cooked) must be kept over 140 F by placing them on the grill, in heated chafing dishes, slow cooker, or warming trays.

Remember the two-hour rule… Foods that are kept hot or cold out of the Danger Zone or do not sit out for more than two hours (one hour if over 90 F) are safe to keep.