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Prepare food safely this summer

Jun 20, 2018

In the summer months, our inclination is to relax outside with friends and family. One thing we need to be certain not to relax, though, is food safety standards.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that food-borne illnesses increase in summer months. It’s understandable—in warm weather, we’re often taking food to picnics or cookouts. And the elements are acting against us, with higher temperatures.

Some tips from FoodSafety.gov:

  • Plan ahead. Buy only what you’ll need and consider when you’re going to serve perishable items. Watch sell-by and use-by dates. The FoodKeeper app at www.foodsafety.gov/keep/foodkeeperapp/index.html provides specific guidance about food storage for freshness and quality.
  • Wash your hands often, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if hand-washing facilities are unavailable.
    If you’re grilling out, keep raw meats separate. Use a food thermometer to be sure foods are cooked to the proper temperature. (See www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/mintemp.html.)
  • Arrange to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Use chafing dishes or slow cookers to hold hot foods above 140°F. Use coolers and ice to keep cold items below 40°F—about the temperature of most refrigerators. Be prepared to hold foods at these levels for the duration of your event, and then safely pack up and transport leftovers. Be especially careful with meats and items with egg products (including mayonnaise).

For more information about food safety in the warm weather months, visit www.foodsafety.gov/keep/events/summervacations/index.html. Here’s hoping you enjoy a food-safe summer!

Dr. O’dell Moreno Owens is the president and chief executive officer of Interact for Health and InterAct for Change. Dr. Owens is a reproductive endocrinologist. He earned an MD, an OB/GYN residency and a master’s of public health degree from Yale University School of Medicine. He also obtained a fellowship in reproductive endocrinology at Harvard Medical School. In recent years, Dr. Owens has served as the Hamilton County Coroner, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College President, and Interim Health Commissioner and Medical Director of the Cincinnati Health Department.

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