Most foodborne bacteria grow fastest in temperatures from 90 to 100 degrees. Bacteria also need moisture to flourish, and summer weather is often hot and humid. If you are not careful with food, especially during the summer months, it could make you and your loved ones very sick.
The primary mission of the national, nonprofit organization, STOP Foodborne Illness is getting meat and food manufacturers to stop pathogens from reaching consumers, but until that happens, the group wants to help consumers buy, prepare and store food safely, especially during the hot summer months.
STOP's Food Safety Tips for Summer
- Make sure you have these essential tools: a cooler, hand sanitizer, and a meat thermometer.
- Keep a cooler in the back of your car when grocery shopping to store meats on the hot drive home. Always store raw meats separately from fully cooked and perishable food items.
- Bring hand sanitizer if you're not going to be near a sink to wash your hands when preparing food.
- Don't baste or "finish" meats with marinade that was used on raw meat, poultry or seafood. Instead, set some marinade aside ahead of time to use for the "finishing sauce."
- Use a thermometer when cooking meat. Ground meat should reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees before it can be served safely. Grilled chicken & other poultry products (like turkey burgers) should be cooked to 165 degrees and whole cuts of meat, including pork should be cooked to 145 degrees AND LET REST FOR 3 MINUTES.
- Take care to prevent cross-contamination. Use separate cutting boards for your raw meat and other perishables and wash hands often as you prepare foods.
- "When in doubt, throw it out" – Promptly cool and refrigerate leftovers in shallow containers. If you're unable to cool the food within two hours, you should throw it out.
- On hot summer days, when temperatures spike above 90 degrees, perishable foods that are served outside should be eaten first and thrown out an hour after service.
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About Nancy Donley (release)
Nancy Donley is recognized as a leading proponent of improvement in both government and private food safety efforts since the death of her six-year old son Alex in 1993 from consumption of E. coli O157:H7-contaminated ground beef. Alex was her and her husband Tom's, only child. Nancy works in a volunteer capacity for STOP Foodborne Illness and has served as its president for over 10 years. She has done extensive advocacy work on behalf of the organization and has been featured in numerous magazine articles, newspaper articles and television interviews in efforts to increase awareness about the risks of foodborne illness. Nancy serves on the United States Department of Agriculture's National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection. She has received numerous awards for her advocacy efforts. She has a B.S. degree in marketing from DePaul University and resides in Chicago where she works as a real estate broker for Koenig and Strey GMAC Real Estate.