By Cindy Harsany

Now is a great time to get together with your neighborhood to enjoy cookouts, picnics, and celebrations. As you get together this summer to make connections and good memories, please remember to be safe with your food preparation and storage. Here are some important food tips based upon guidance from the US Food and Drug Administration:


Cold Food – Use ice, gel packs, or pack it frozen to keep cold food at 40 degrees or below. This will help to keep bacteria from growing. It is also good to keep containers closed as much as possible, drain off water as ice melts, and replace with more ice. You can serve in small portions and keep the remaining food cool.

Hot Food – This should be kept hot, at or above 140 degrees F. Wrap it well and place it in an insulated container until serving.

Cooking Meat – Use food thermometers when cooking meat, and to test food temperatures. The following are cooking guidelines.
⦁ Beef, Pork, Lamb, & Veal (steaks, roasts, and chops): 145 degrees F. with 3-minute rest time.
⦁ Ground meats: 160 degrees F.
⦁ Whole poultry, poultry breast & ground poultry: 165 degrees F.

Danger Zone – Don’t let food remain in the danger zone between 40 degrees F. and 140 F. for more than 2 hours, or 1 hour if outdoor temperatures are above 90 degrees. If food exceeds this time in the danger zone, throw it away.

Cross Contamination – Never reuse a plate or utensils for serving that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood, unless they 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.

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