Food Safety Details Back to Articles
Your food safety precautions may not earn as much attention as your stellar hosting skills, but keeping foodborne illnesses at bay is a party prep must. Try these tips for practicing food safety indoors and out:
When You're Indoors
Food safety starts inside.
- Thoroughly wash raw fruits and veggies before eating.
- Avoid cross-contamination by refrigerating raw meats in sealed containers to prevent juices from dripping onto other foods.
- Always use a clean cutting board. Wash cutting boards in hot, soapy water between uses. If possible, reserve one board for raw meats, poultry, and seafood and another for produce and bread.
- Check your refrigerator and freezer temperatures: Your fridge should be set no higher than 40°F, while your freezer should be 0° F or lower.
- Keep hot foods hot (140°F or higher) and cold foods cold (40°F or lower). Thaw frozen foods in the fridge rather than at room temperature and store leftover foods in quality containers with snug-fitting lids.
- Use hot, soapy water and paper towels or clean cloths to wipe up kitchen surfaces or spills. A bleach solution of 1 tablespoon unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water may be used to sanitize kitchen surfaces and utensils. Keep dishcloths clean by washing often in the hot cycle of your washing machine so they don't become breeding ground for bacteria.
- Clean your refrigerator and freezer regularly; clean up spills immediately. Toss out expired items, as well as those that look and smell funny. Thoroughly clean surfaces with hot, soapy water; then rinse.
When You're Outdoors
Nice weather is prime time for picnics and alfresco dining. Unfortunately, outdoor dining also means food quickly becomes a candidate for spoilage. To prevent problems when the weather heats up:
- Pick a shady spot to enjoy your meal. Even foods stored in a cooler will warm up quickly when placed in direct sunlight. Only open the packed cooler as needed and wait until right before you're ready to grill or eat before removing items.
- Load the cooler with ice packs or blocks of ice because they last longer than ice cubes. Fill the cooler completely to keep things from warming up.
- Prevent cross-contamination by keeping raw foods and cooked foods in separate containers. Keep uncooked foods such as meats in tightly sealed plastic bags. Place items that will be used last at the bottom of the cooler - raw meats or poultry below ready to eat foods when packed in same cooler.
- Move salads directly from the refrigerator to the cooler. Rather than mixing a salad beforehand, pack dressings and ingredients separately and toss the salad at the party site. Salads and other foods that should stay cool should be set in larger bowls with ice for serving.
- Pack a food thermometer to ensure that grilled items have been cooked to safe internal temperature. Hamburger should be 160°F, steaks to 145°F and all chicken should reach 165°F.
- Dispose of any leftover perishable food on-site - items exposed to temperatures above 40°F for more than two hours, 1 hour at temperatures above 90°F, should be discarded.