Preventing Food Poisoning at Cookouts

Posted by Lloyd on July 12, 2011
First Aid

Make your picnics, barbecues and cookouts a haven for friends, family and fun … not bacterial contamination.

Food poisoning (now known as “food-borne illness”) can happen easily if you do not handle food extremely carefully when cooking outdoors in late spring and summer.

Food Handling Safety Tips

Be aware that raw or improperly cooked meat and poultry can harbor numerous types of food-borne illnesses. Always treat meat and poultry as if it were contaminated. There is no reliable way to tell just by looking at it.

Avoid cross-contamination. From the supermarket until they are ready to serve, keep meat and poultry separate from other food. This includes in the grocery bags, fridge and coolers. Take special care to ensure that meat juices do not drip onto prepared or raw foods, such as salads.

Use one cutting board or preparation area for meat and poultry and a separate one for other foods. Cross-contamination frequently occurs when meat and other foods are prepared on the same cutting board or whatever surface is available. If you do not have separate preparation areas, wash the one you are using in hot, soapy water after preparing the meat. Do the same with knives, utensils, plates or anything that comes in contact with the meat.

Thaw meat and poultry completely before cooking.

Cook meat and poultry thoroughly, using a meat thermometer.

Wash your hands often.

Follow the general guideline that hot foods should be kept hot (after cooking) and cold foods cold. This holds true for transportation to the picnic as well as during the event itself.

If you are a guest, get to the picnic early and eat right away. As much as possible, pay attention to the way the food is handled and prepared. Unless it is on a burner or ice, do not eat anything that has been sitting out for more than two hours — one hour when it is really hot, such as above 90 degrees.

Food that has been sitting out for longer than one or two hours, depending on the weather, should be thrown away, not taken home as leftovers.

For more information on these topics, call the USDA’s toll-free Meat and Poultry Hotline at (800) 535-4555. Specialists are available to answer questions between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday. At any time, you can listen to recorded messages with answers to frequently asked questions about food preparation safety.

People do not guess when an emergency will happen. Thus, safety officials proposes us to get first aid kit contents in your workplace, home, office.

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