With warmer weather here to stay and the number of family gatherings increasing it seems appropriate to bring some food safety reminders to you today. Whether it is an impromptu picnic or a planned family outing, nothing can spoil the moment quicker than someone becoming ill from food that is not prepared carefully or held at a safe temperature.
To protect yourself, your family, and friends from foodborne illness during warm-weather months, safe food handling when eating outdoors is critical. Practice simple food safety guidelines for transporting your food to the picnic site, and preparing and serving it safely once you have arrived.
Food safety begins with proper hand cleaning – including outdoor settings. Before you begin setting out your picnic feast, make sure hands and surfaces are clean. If you do not have access to running water, simply use a water jug, some soap, and paper towels. Or, consider using moist disposable towelettes for cleaning your hands. When it comes to utensils and serving dishes, take care to keep these items clean and sanitized when preparing food.
Never reuse a plate or utensils that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood for serving – unless the have been washed first in hot, soapy water. Otherwise, you can spread bacteria from the raw juices to your cooked or ready-to-eat food. This is particularly important to remember when serving cooked foods from the grill.
As food heats up in summer temperatures, bacteria multiply rapidly. Keep in mind that the two hour rule applies here. This means that hot food needs to be served or chilled to a safe temperature within two hours of your event. If this is not possible leftovers will need to be discarded. On really hot days (above 90 degrees) the safe time is even shorter. Another good reminder is to have two ice chests; one for beverages that will be opened and closed frequently and one for the food that can be kept closed to keep the temperature safe.
Enjoy some safe family picnics in the weeks ahead!
ServSafe for Employees Class is Scheduled
While we are on the subject of food safety, I want to call your attention to the ServSafe for Employees class I will lead Friday, May 20th, from 1:30 – 4:30 p.m., at the Extension Office meeting room. The class is designed for anyone who is a food handler. Many workplaces, like nursing homes, restaurants, and coffee shops will pay the $10 registration fee for their employees to attend. The workshop requires a pre-registration no later than Tuesday, May 17th, so that materials can be provided. Call me at 620-793-1910 to reserve your place in the class.
Donna Krug is the Family and Consumer Science Agent with K-State Research and Extension – Barton County. She may be reached at (620)793-1910 or firstname.lastname@example.org.