Hello food friends! Today I am sharing another blog post written by one of my volunteers, Madeleine Farquhar. The focus is on food safety in the summer. Food safety is always important but it can be trickier in the summer with the warm weather. Keep on reading for essential tips on keeping your food safe and avoiding foodborne illnesses!
When the weather gets warmer, one of the things that I look forward to the most is eating al fresco and having summer barbeques. However, as much fun as it is to eat outdoors, there are some precautions that should be taken to make sure that food is safe to eat. Many of our favourite summer foods such as burgers, potato salad and melons require a little extra care to keep everyone safe and healthy.
The Danger Zone
The first thing that most people think about when it comes to food safety is meat. It is important to keep meat cold all year round, but in the summertime, this can be a little more difficult due to increasing outdoor temperatures. The “danger zone” – 4C to 60C – is a range of temperatures that facilitates growth of microorganisms that can cause foodborne illness.1 When you first purchase meat products, make sure to get them into the fridge or freezer right away. If you can, bring a cooler bag to the grocery store – cars can heat up to some high temperatures in the summer, which can accelerate bacterial growth. Remember to store meats at the bottom of the cooler bag – this will ensure that if the meat happens to drip, none of the juices will contaminate your other foods.1
The danger zone doesn’t just apply to raw foods – it is important to keep cooked foods out of the heat as well. A good general rule is to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. If you are going to be leaving some dishes out in the heat, remember to be aware of how long they have been outside. Keep perishable foods out no longer than two hours, and no longer than one hour in hot weather.2 Perishable foods include raw meat, deli meat, cut produce, dairy products, and salads (i.e., potato salad, pasta salad, etc.).2
Another way to stay food safe in the summer is to make sure that foods are cleaned and prepared properly. Remember to wash fruit and veggies before you chop them – this includes melons! Even though we don’t usually eat the rind of a watermelon or cantaloupe, washing the outside prevents any contaminants that might be on the surface of the melon from getting inside when the knife cuts through.3
(FODMAP note: watermelons are high FODMAP, but cantaloupe and honeydew melons are low at 1/2 cup)
It is also important to make sure that bacteria from one food don’t cross contaminate another food. You can prevent this by thoroughly cleaning knives and cutting boards between foods, and making sure that plates that held raw meat aren’t reused for cooked meat. Also, it is always a good idea to wash your hands after preparing food (especially raw meat!) and before eating.
Having people over for a summer barbeque can be stressful, but if you remember these simple tips, you can have fun and ensure that food is safe and healthy to eat too!
- Government of Canada. (2013, January 7). Summer food safety tips. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/seasonal-food-safety/summer-food-safety-tips.html
- S. Department of Health & Human Services. (n.d.). Summer and Vacations. Retrieved from https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/events/summervacations/index.html
- Eat Right Ontario. (2017, July 13). Vegetable and Fruit Food Safety Facts. Retrieved from https://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Food-safety/Vegetable-and-Fruit-Food-Safety-Facts.aspx
About the Guest Author
Madeleine Farquhar is a third-year Applied Human Nutrition Student at the University of Guelph. She especially enjoys learning about the impact nutrition can have on a person’s overall health and wellbeing. After she graduates, she hopes to share her passion for health and wellness with others while working in the healthcare field.