Did you know that you are more likely to contract a foodborne illness during the summer months than any other time of the year? This is because bacteria and germs are present throughout every aspect of the environment. However, these microorganisms grow at a much faster rate in warm weather. Therefore, given the right environment, harmful bacteria can quickly multiply on food in large amounts, potentially leading to someone getting sick. Here are some simple steps to safely enjoy food during the summertime:

Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often. Unwashed hands are a primary cause of foodborne illness. Always wash your hands with warm, soapy water before and after handling food and after using the bathroom.

Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate. Cross-contamination during cooking and serving food is a leading cause of foodborne illness. When packing a cooler for an outing, always ensure you wrap raw meats securely, and avoid raw meat juices from touching ready-to-eat food. In addition, it would be best if you washed plates, utensils, and cutting boards that previously held raw meats or poultry before using them again for cooked food.

Cook: Cook to safe temperatures. Always take your thermometer with you. Meat and poultry cooked on a grill often brown very fast on the outside, so be sure to cook the meats thoroughly. Check them with a food thermometer to ensure they have reached the correct internal temperature. For example, it would be best to cook ground beef patties to a minimum of 155ºF, and poultry should be a minimum of 165ºF.

The hot weather is the perfect time to picnic and cook outdoors, but it also creates the ideal environment to support the growth of harmful food bugs. Keep family safe by ensuring you are following proper food safety practices.

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