by Terri Wiebold
Everything but the kitchen sink - is what Castle Pines North (CPN) residents often pack as they begin the summer pool, picnic and barbecue season. However, outdoor food gatherings would be safer if residents could actually pack the kitchen sink! Food-borne illnesses resulting from cross contamination increase during this season of outdoor food consumption away from home.
“The challenge of keeping hands and utensils clean is greater when preparing and eating food without having the use of a kitchen,” said Susan Conley, director of Food Safety Education for the United States Department of Agriculture (ASDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service. “Cross contamination can occur when harmful microorganisms from raw meat and poultry are transferred to ready-to-eat foods if cutting boards, hands and utensils are not cleaned properly.”
Here are important safety tips to remember when picnicking:
Keep everything clean and find out if there is a source of safe drinking water at the picnic site. If not, bring water for preparation and cleaning; or pack clean, wet, disposable cloths or moist towelettes and paper towels for cleaning hands and surfaces. Cross contamination during preparation, grilling, and serving food is a prime cause of food-borne illness. Remember to always wash hands before and after handling food, and do not use the same platter and utensils for raw and cooked meat and poultry.
It is also very important to keep hot food hot and cold food cold on the way to, and throughout, the meal. Holding food at an unsafe temperature is another cause of food-borne illness. Food should not be left out of the cooler or off the grill more than one to two hours. If bringing hot take-out food such as fried chicken or barbecue, eat it within two hours of purchase.
Carry cold perishable food like hamburger patties, hotdogs, luncheon meats and chicken in an insulated cooler packed with plenty of ice or frozen gel packs. Be sure raw meat and poultry are wrapped securely to prevent juices from cross contaminating ready-to-eat food.
Armed with these great food tips and a plethora of sunscreen, summertime in CPN can be not only fun but safe too.
-Information provided by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service