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TIP OF THE DAY: Summer Food Safety

Whether you’re taking a vacation, going picnicking or simply bringing lunch to work, the summer heat causes bacteria to multiply in your food—to potentially dangerous levels.

Each year, roughly 1 out of 6 Americans (48 million people) becomes ill, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 actually die from foodborne diseases.

These safety tips from the American Dietetic Association/ConAgra Foods Home Food Safety Program may make the difference between a refreshing meal or snack and food poisoning.

  • Always wash your hands with soap and water during food preparation, especially between tasks (for example, bacteria from raw chicken can contaminate the salad). If you can’t get to a sink to wash your hands with soap and water, pack moist towelettes or a hand sanitizer to clean your hands.
  • Don’t let food sit out unrefrigerated for more than two hours; in hot weather (above 90°F), the time is reduced to one hour.
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    Add food and ice packs to this collapsible
    picnic basket by Picnic At Ascot.

     

  • Pack food with ice or a frozen ice pack in an insulated lunch bag or cooler. Drop in a refrigerator thermometer to ensure the temperature remains below 40°F.
  • In hot weather, transport food in a cooler, packed with ice or ice packs. Keep the cooler in the back seat of an air-conditioned car instead of in the hot trunk.
  • If you don’t have access to a cooler, try packing frozen juice boxes or bottles of water, for a hydrating refresher that will also help keep the foods around it cool.
  • If you’re cooking meat to take on the road—hamburgers, hot dogs or chicken breasts, for example—remember to cook them to proper temperatures. Hamburgers should cook to at least 160°F, hot dogs reheated to 160°F and chicken to 165°F.
  • For a road trip, consider packing easy-to-transport, shelf-stable* foods: single-serve boxes of cereal, tetra-packs of milk and juice, trail mix, popcorn, applesauce, cans of tuna, peanut butter sandwiches, fresh fruit, carrots or celery.
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    Don’t forget that carry-out and fast foods are also susceptible to food poisoning.

    *Shelf stable foods are those that require no refrigeration, except for storing the remainder of the container after the package is opened.

    Learn more at HomeFoodSafety.org.

      





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