With warmer temperatures, cooks will be moving outdoors to the grills. Or taking advantage of fresh produce available from summer gardens. It’s a good time to review food safety, too.
Cleanliness in all areas is vital. Wash your hands frequently, and keep your food prep area sanitized. (A spray bottle containing 1 part chlorine bleach to 10 parts water works well and is less expensive than sanitizing products).
The peels of some fruits and vegetables may contain trace amounts of pesticides, fertilizer, or bacteria. All fruits and vegetables should be washed before eating (even if you don’t eat the rind, as with a melon). Store produce separately from raw meats or fish. Wash produce under running water. Some berries will mold if you wash and store, so wait to wash berries until you’re ready to use them and store unwashed produce apart from washed.
Raw meats (including poultry) can contaminate produce, countertops, and utensils with harmful bacteria. To avoid cross-contamination, thoroughly wash all surfaces that come in contact with the meats, including knives. Use a separate (plastic or glass) cutting board for meats, something that can be washed in a dishwasher or hot soapy water.
Thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator and use within three days. Do not allow food to thaw at room temperature. Bacteria can grow rapidly. Cook all meat to a safe temperature. Use a cooking thermometer, especially on pork and poultry, which should never be undercooked.
When brewing iced tea, bring water to a boil. Sun tea can harbor harmful bacteria. If you have well water, have it checked every year to be sure it’s safe to drink. When in doubt (or after severe weather and power outages), boil water before using it.
If you follow basic food safety guidelines, you can enjoy a healthy, fun summer.