Although Memorial Day is the official holiday for remembering and honoring those who died while serving in the U.S. military, it is also the unofficial start of outdoor eating activities including outdoor grilling, picnics and cookouts. As Memorial Day approaches its time to start paying more attention to outdoor food safety. “Warmer temperatures require heightened attention of food safety when cooking and eating outdoors,” said Dr. Fredrick Echols, director of health for the City of St. Louis. The Department of Health is encouraging residents to add the following USDA food safety tips to their outdoor food preparation and eating activities to reduce the risk of contracting a foodborne illness.
If you bring food to a picnic or cookout, remember:
- To use an insulated cooler filled with ice or frozen gel packs. Frozen food also works well as a cold source.
- Foods that need to be kept cold include raw meat, poultry, and seafood; deli and luncheon meats or sandwiches; summer salads (tuna, chicken, egg, pasta, or seafood); cut up fruit and vegetables; and perishable dairy products.
- A full cooler will maintain its cold temperature longer than a partially filled one. When using a cooler, keep it out of the direct sun by placing it in the shade or shelter.
- Avoid opening the cooler repeatedly so that your food stays colder longer.
- Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meat and ready-to-eat items like vegetables or bread.
- Keep perishable food cold until it is ready to cook.
- Use a food thermometer to make sure meat and poultry are cooked thoroughly to their safe minimum internal temperatures
- Beef, Pork, Lamb, & Veal (steaks, roasts, and chops): 145 °F with a 3-minute rest time
- Ground meats: 160 °F
- Whole poultry, poultry breasts, & ground poultry: 165 °F
- Always use a fresh, clean plate and tongs for serving cooked food. Never reuse items that touched raw meat or poultry to serve the food once it is cooked.
Serving food outdoors:
- Perishable food should not sit out for more than two hours. In hot weather (above 90 °F), food should NEVER sit out for more than one hour.
- Serve cold food in small portions, and keep the rest in the cooler. After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, keep it hot until served – at 140 °F or warmer.
- Keep hot food hot by setting it to the side of the grill rack, not directly over the coals where they could overcook.
For additional information on outdoor food safety tips visit the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/index.html
Department of Health
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