Temperatures are rising and days are getting longer—it's summer! While it's a great time of year for outdoors activities, the warmer weather, sunshine and longer days do present some seasonal health concerns. Here are some tips and information to help make this summer a great one and a healthy one.
During the summer, there is no shortage of cookouts and barbecues. There are many popular food combinations that are best enjoyed from the grill. As delicious as food from the grill can be, there are some very serious dangers that can come from cross-contamination or undercooking.
There are 6 steps that help grill a safe meal:
- When you are in the grocery store, separate your meat, poultry, and fish from the other foods in your cart and your grocery bags. "Put your raw meat products into plastic bags before placing them in your cart. This keeps packaging from leaking and dripping onto other ready-to-eat foods" says Kara Meeks, MS, RDN, CDE, dietitian at Augusta Health.
- Keep cold foods cold! When putting the groceries in the car, place anything that needs to remain refrigerated in a cooler or thermal bag. Examples of foods that should remain refrigerated are: meats, fruits and vegetables, & foods from the frozen sections.
- Before you begin to prepare the food, wash your hands. After traveling to and from the grocery store, there are likely lots of germs residing on your hands. To remove those germs, you must wash your hands well. This is a great time to begin to wash the vegetables and fruits. Produce can carry germs on its outer skin, so it is important to wash all produce before you either prepare or eat it.
- It's grilling time! Use a meat thermometer to ensure that the meat is being thoroughly cooked. The CDC provides an extensive list of temperatures to which each meat should be cooked. Undercooked meat can leave can leave behind harmful germs, which you will eventually consume.
- If you choose to season your meats with marinades, whether they are liquid or dry, the marinades must be thrown away once marinating is complete. Marinades may contain harmful germs, and if they are ingested, can make people very sick.
- If there are any leftovers, place them in shallow containers and cover them. Place the covered containers into the refrigerator within two hours of cooking the meats. If the temperature is hot outside, it is best to place leftovers in the fridge or freezer within one hour.
If you would like more information about grilling safety or food safety, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/communication/bbq-iq.html