Summer is officially here! The 4th of July holiday will be celebrated this weekend and whether it is camping, road trips, cookouts, picnics in the park, or other activities, all of these will involve food. The County of Santa Clara Department of Environmental Health is reminding families to take extra precautions so that food-borne bacteria don’t ruin the fun.
Food-borne illness increases in summer due to variety of factors, including warmer temperatures.
It’s important to remember that bacteria grow faster in warm temperatures, so extra care needs to be taken to prevent possible food poisoning. Cooking food thoroughly, keeping food refrigerated, and making sure that food prep surfaces and hands are clean are basics that ensure a safe meal.
To help residents stay healthy and safe, the Department of Environmental Health has provided the following tips:
- Make sure you wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.
- Marinate food in the refrigerator. Reserve a portion of the unused marinate to use as a sauce, don’t use sauce that was used to marinate raw meat or poultry on cooked food.
- When grilling foods, preheat the coals for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the coals are lightly coated with ash.
- Use a food thermometer to make sure meat and poultry are thoroughly cooked to their safe minimum internal temperature:
– Beef, pork, lamb and veal (steaks, roasts, and chops): 145 degrees F with a 3-minute rest time.
– Ground meats: 160 degrees F.
– Whole poultry, poultry breasts and ground poultry: 165 degrees F.
– Fish should be opaque and flake easily or cook to 145 degrees F.
- Always use a fresh, clean plate and tongs for serving cooked food. Never reuse items that touched raw meat or poultry to serve the food once it is cooked.
- Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meat and ready-to-eat items such as vegetables, fruits or breads.
- Keep perishable food cold until it is ready to cook. In hot weather (above 90 degrees F), food should NEVER sit out for more than one hour. Keep hot food hot by setting it to the side of the grill rack, not directly over the coals where it could overcook.
- A full cooler will maintain its cold temperature longer than a partially filled one. When using a cooler, keep it out of the direct sun by placing it in the shade or shelter. Keep drinks in a separate cooler from foods. The beverage cooler will be opened frequently while the food cooler stays cold.
Follow these tips and enjoy a safe and fun summer time. For more information, visit the County Department of Environmental Health website at www.EHinfo.org or call the Consumer Protection Division at (408) 918-3400.