Staying Safe this Summer

Staying Safe this Summer

Summertime is a great time for getting together with family and friends for a picnic or barbecue; it also presents ideal conditions for bacteria and other pathogens to grow and cause foodborne illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 6 Americans gets sick each year from foodborne illness. With Memorial Day approaching and grilling season about to begin, the Plainville-Southington Regional Health District would like to remind residents of these safe food handling practices that will make your picnics and barbecues a success:
• Persons cooking and handling foods must have clean hands. Wash your hands with warm soapy water, for at least 20 seconds, and then dry your hand with a clean towel before and after handling different foods.
• Thaw foods in a refrigerator, microwave or during the cooking process. Never thaw foods by leaving it out on the counter. Harmful bacteria can grow in raw meats, poultry, eggs and fish when left out in the temperature “Danger Zone” (between 45 and 140F).
• Always marinate foods in the refrigerator. Marinades used previously on raw foods should not be re-used on cooked foods. Additionally, plates, cutting boards and utensils that came in contact with raw meats or raw meat juices must be washed with hot soapy water before coming in contact with cooked foods.
• Use a food (thin probe) thermometer to check and insure that meats are thoroughly cooked. Hamburgers and pork products should be cooked to at least 160F, while poultry and hot dogs must be cooked to 165F. If you are re-heating previously cooked meats, make sure to heat them up to 165F.
• Keep the hot foods warm on the grill and the cold foods chilled on ice. Be sure to have plenty of coolers and ice available.
• All fruits and vegetables should be washed before use.
• Completely separate the raw meats, poultry and fish from any ready-to-eat foods, like lettuce, tomatoes, watermelon and breads. This will prevent the harmful organisms, found in the raw meats, from contaminating the ready-to-eat foods.
The Plainville-Southington Regional Health District would also like to remind residents of the need to wear sunscreen with SPF 15, during extended periods of time outdoors. If you have any questions or would like additional information, please call the health district at 860-276-6275.