Safe eats are good eats
By Lisa Crockett
Summer is a 90-day party with meals often served outdoors. The fun of a summer cookout, though, can end with a trip to the doctor because of the foodborne illnesses that often accompany barbecues and picnics.
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health, roughly 2,500 people got sick after eating contaminated food in 2015 (the most recent year for which statistics were available). Keep your cookout from turning deadly by remembering the following tips from the Colorado State University Extension:
– Cook ground meat to a temperature of 160 degrees (use a meat thermometer, which can be purchased inexpensively, to ensure the proper temperature is reached).
– Keep hot foods at a temperature of 140 degrees or higher and cold foods at a temperature of 40 degrees or lower. (The area between 40 degrees and 140 degrees is known as the “danger zone” because foods at those temperatures are a breeding ground for bacteria.)
– When it is hotter than 90 degrees outside, leave cooked foods out for no longer than one hour before reheating, refrigerating or freezing. If it’s cooler than 90 degrees, leave food out for no longer than two hours.
– Always thaw meat in the refrigerator.
– When cooking meat in a slow cooker or smoker, check the internal temperature in three spots to ensure food is thoroughly cooked.
– Eat leftovers within four days. Do not taste leftovers to determine safety.
– Before preparing fresh fruits or vegetables, wash your own hands for about 20 seconds to avoid spreading any bacteria you may have come in contact with.
– If you’re chopping fruits or vegetables, be sure to prepare produce on cutting boards that are freshly washed. Maintain separate cutting boards for meat and produce, and never expose raw produce to meat juices of any kind.
–Thoroughly rinse peelings, even if they will be discarded, to avoid spreading bacteria as produce is chopped and prepared.
– For items with softer skin, rinse thoroughly in cool running water, taking care to rinse all surfaces.
– Be aware of food safety recalls; for information on food recalls, visit www.foodsafety.gov.