Memorial Day is coming up and tons of Americans love to have backyard cookouts for the occasion and the rest of the summer months. But let’s face it…cookouts can sometimes mean a case of the sicks. With the assistance of Ellen Shumaker, director of outreach for North Carolina State University community food safety program, “Huffington Post” has put together a list of the most common causes of foodborne illnesses at cookouts – and here they are!
- Germs from your friends – This is the number one risky behavior – if your friends don’t wash their hands properly or sanitize them frequently you could be at risk for a foodborne illness.
- Food being left out in the sun too long – Safety inspector Jeff Nelken stresses that any food that is supposed to be kept hot or cold should not be left sitting out. The “danger zone” of temperature is between 40- and 140-degrees Fahrenheit and that’s when bacteria begin to multiply and can double in as fast as 20 minutes. He goes on to say that food should never be in that zone for more than two hours and cold food dishes no longer than an hour. After that they need to be refrigerated and stay colder than 40 degrees F and warm food needs to be kept above 140 degrees F. In other words, if that potato salad has a funk to it? Skip it.
- Meat is undercooked or has contaminated other foods – Experts say that nothing that touches raw meat touches it again once it’s been cooked. They recommend a designated plate and utensils to be used for raw meat handling ONLY (and these should never touch cooked meat). And watch your temps? Shumaker stresses that meat temperatures be adhered to: 165-degrees, 145-degrees for beef and 160-degrees for ground beef.