6 Summer Food Safety Tips

Summer Barbeque

Even though the weather is extremely hot right now, 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

6 Tips To Reduce Produce Food Costs

Salad Greens

We are all feeling the inflation rise with higher prices for fruits and vegetables.

What Can You Do?

Fresh Strawberries

Here are some tips to help you make wise decisions when buying these items and also help you keep produce safe.

Choose Quality

It’s best to choose produce that is not damaged or bruised.

When buying pre-cut, bagged or packaged produce, such as salad greens or half a cantaloupe, check that the produce is refrigerated or surrounded by ice.

Bagged Kale Slaw

Store Safely

Most of us know to always store fresh fruits and vegetables separately from raw meats, poultry and seafood when taking groceries home from the store. There was a case of raw blood from a torn hamburger meat package dripping onto raw salad greens which caused an outbreak of E. Coli! This was preventable if the products had been packed separately at the grocery store.

Separate For Safety

Use separate cutting boards for produce, raw meat, poultry & seafood

It’s very important to keep raw fruits and vegetables separate from raw meats and seafood, and also to use separate kitchen utensils for these items. When finished with food preparation, always wash the knives and cutting boards in hot soapy water or the dishwasher.

Saving Money

Raw Carrots

Tips To Follow

You can save money on produce with these helpful tips:

*Buy produce which is cold and refrigerate immediately when home.

*Use clean and sanitary utensils for food preparation.

*Cut away damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables before preparing or eating.

*Do not wash fruits and vegetables with soap, detergent or a commercial produce wash as these steps are not effective.

*Even if you do not plan to eat the skin of fruits and vegetables, wash with water first to prevent dirt and bacteria transferring from the surface when peeling or cutting.

*You can use a clean produce brush to scrub firm produce with water such as melons and cucumbers which will also remove surface contaminants.

Salad with a meal

By following these tips, you will reduce produce wastage and reduce your food costs!

Food Safety Makes Sense

In my former career, I was a public health inspector/environmental health officer and ran my own business called Enviro-Food Consulting. I trained a large number of restaurant and foodservice workers on food safety techniques. One of my future projects is a blog book based on my last blog called Food Safety Makes Sense.

As we are still in the pandemic, the public forgets that food poisoning cases also are still happening and are preventable. It makes sense for us to remember that food safety is important to all of us.

The Attitudes of Food Service Workers

I have taught many groups of workers from teens to seniors. The most interesting point to remember is that food safety is not treated seriously. Working in a restaurant is thought of as just another job. Management is not always supportive. If workers notice that management doesn’t take an interest in them, they are not concerned about food safety. That means sanitizing isn’t done carefully, hands are wiped not washed, and dirty cloths are not replaced. Now that the next wave of the pandemic may be upon us, sanitizing still needs to be taken seriously.

Cappucino

Food Prepared & Purchased in A Typical Day

If you think about your typical day, many of us consume food made at home or nowadays may enjoy a takeout item including drinks such as coffee. We all forget how much we depend on the food supply chain to provide us with safe food to eat which won’t make us ill. Many cases of foodborne illness are not reported as symptoms tend to mimic the flu.

Breakfast Egg Sandwich

Consider The Following Points

For example, if you had an egg sandwich for breakfast in a restaurant, do you consider the following points?

  1. How old is the egg that was used in the ingredients of the sandwich?

2. Did the food handler preparing the sandwich wash his/her hands before preparing the sandwich?

3. Was the egg cooked properly to the correct temperature?

4. Was there any cross-contamination with other menu items being prepared on the grill or at the same time?

Food Handler Washing Hands
  1. Was the handwashing done properly not just using a shot of hand sanitizer? Hand sanitizers are wonderful when sinks with hot and cold water are not available. However, in a restaurant kitchen, there is a designated hand basin to use. Handwashing with hot or warm water and liquid soap sanitizes hands most effectively.
  2. Was the work area sanitized? This should be done with an approved sanitizer in a spray bottle and clean cloth. If the cloth is dirty, contaminants will be spread around the surfaces.
  3. Was the sandwich cooked to the proper temperature?
  4. Is the purchased sandwich hot, lukewarm or even cold? Uneven temperatures mean the food is in the Danger Zone where various food poisoning organisms can grow.

Do You Still Want to Eat the Egg Sandwich?

After thinking about all these points, do you still want to eat the egg sandwich?

Food safety affects us all though we take this for granted even in the pandemic! Food safety does make sense.

More Breakfast Food