6 Summer Food Safety Tips

Summer Barbeque

Even though the weather is not warm just yet, summer provides us with good times outdoors to enjoy family picnics, holidays and camping. As with all meals, food preparation is the key especially when family members and guests represent all age groups. Food poisoning can easily be prevented. Here are some tips for summer food safety.

Foods To Avoid This Summer

Raw Milk, Juices & Cheeses

Raw Milk

Raw milk is unpasteurized and can contain bacteria and viruses which cause food poisoning. Unpasteurized juices and cheeses are also unsafe. Stick to pasteurized products as the heat treatment of pasteurization destroys these disease-causing microbes.

Raw Sprouts

Raw sprouts should be avoided because the danger exists in the growing process. Many outbreaks have occurred in countries from sprout contamination mainly caused by the germination process where the seeds are sprouted in standing water which grows bacteria.

Raw Sprouts

Raw Oysters

You’ve heard about raw oysters before! Foodborne illness outbreaks linked to shellfish have increased steadily due to global warming. Warmer water increases microbial growth, and filter feeders such as oysters pass the micro-organisms into their systems when they filter the water. Vibrio is one example of an illness caused from eating raw oysters.

Raw Oysters

Raw Flour

Raw cookie dough treats are popular, but the flour is cooked before the dough is made. However, uncooked flour can spread bacteria such as E. coli. Outbreaks of food poisoning have occurred from eating raw cookie dough so it’s not a good idea to consume this.

Raw Flour

Raw Meats & Fish

Sushi is great but must not sit out in the sun or in the Danger Zone for longer than 2 hours. As we are in a hot spell this summer, sushi must be consumed in a shorter period of time as the outside temperature when on a picnic or camping is higher than normal. Raw fish and raw meat contain bacteria. It’s not worth eating raw hamburger or partially cooked meat as bacteria is still present in the raw product. This can result in E. coli which causes kidney failure among other symptoms.

Raw Meats

The Best Tips for Safety

It’s always best practice to wash your hands before, during and after food preparation.

There are five steps for proper handwashing: wet hands, lather with soap, scrub for 20 seconds, rinse, and dry. Many people forget or don’t scrub their hands for 20 seconds which allows their hands to remain contaminated. This then contaminates the foods they are preparing or serving.

Handwashing

Handwashing

Watch The Danger Zone

Courtesy of USDA

Use a food thermometer to check menu items such as meats and fish when cooking. The thermometer must go in the center of the product and reach the appropriate temperature as shown on the chart.

Be Safe

Most importantly, remember that handwashing will be your best preventive tool. If you touch a platter of raw fruit after handling raw meats, you will then contaminate the raw fruit. Even condiments and bags of chips can help spread disease-causing organisms via cross-contamination. Children touching playground equipment in parks and backyards can allow microscopic amounts of bird droppings on hamburgers, hot dogs and other foods. It’s especially important when camping to wash hands correctly after playing outdoors and swimming in lakes or other waterways.

If you follow these tips, you will have safe meal preparation this summer!

Summer Picnic

Source: Food Safety News July 2, 2022

Foods to avoid this Independence Day and tips to avoid holiday food poisoning by Jonan Pilet

Inspection Reports

As a public health inspector, I remember waiting for the restaurant manager to discuss the inspection report based on my visit to the foodservice operation. I had been writing my report by hand. In those days, reports were handwritten noting any deficiencies which required correction. A voice suddenly interrupted my train of thought, “I wasn’t expecting a woman!”. This came from the manager of the restaurant. He was shocked that a woman could do the job.  My reply was “You never had it so good!”. Now in 2021, many years later, those words are the working title of my next book which will be a memoir on my experiences as a female public health inspector.

When I began my first position in Medicine Hat, Alberta, there had not been another public health inspector hired for 20 years. I was described by one of the inspectors as “a bright light”. I didn’t walk around plugged in all the time but I did bring a new perspective on getting the job done. The secretary was impressed to have a female around the office. She told me that a new broom sweeps clean. Another inspector, who also had been with the unit for 20 years, was not pleased to have a female inspector on the job. I might have shown him up as he hadn’t done much work for many years.

There was definitely lots of work to be done. Restaurants hadn’t been inspected, small towns had been neglected, grocery stores and hotels had not had follow-up inspections. One of my restaurant managers in a small town called Bow River reminded me that I was tough. “Your reputation has preceded you!” she said. Her restaurant had many violations but she and her staff did co-operate and clean up. It was wonderful to have food operations running in compliance compared which protected the health of the population.  Also, the general public noticed the improvement in foodservice operations when dining out and phoned in compliments to the Health Unit.