Summertime is upon us and it’s the season for picnics and fun.
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What’s not fun is contracting foodborne illness. Foodborne illness results from improper handling of food. Remember to clean, separate, cook and chill to avoid foodborne illness.
Clean the produce. Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running water. Don’t forget to wash the outside of melons before cutting them.
Don’t use a plate or tools (spatula, tongs, etc) to serve cooked food with the same plate or tools that were used for raw meat or poultry. Use fresh plates and tools to serve cooked food.
When grilling, always use a meat thermometer. Cook to the proper internal temperature of 160 degrees for ground beef, ribs and pork; 145 degrees for steaks; and 165 degrees for all poultry.
Keep hot foods hot at 140 degrees or hotter to prevent growth of bacteria. If made hot at home, transport by wrapping the hot food dishes in towels, then newspaper and place inside a box or heavy paper bag.
After unwrapping, keep these foods hot on top of a lit grill, or by using chafing dishes and liquid fuel or eat within one hour.
Keep the cooler in the air-conditioned car — not in the sweltering trunk. Keep the cooler in the shade at the picnic.
The danger zone, where bacteria grows quickly, is between 40 degrees and 140 degrees. Cold foods should be stored at 40 degrees or less, and hot foods should be stored at 140 degrees or more.
When the outdoor or surrounding temperature is less than 90 degrees Fahrenheit, perishable foods should not be left out for more than two hours.
When the outdoor or surrounding temperature is more than 90 degrees, perishable foods should not be left out for more than one hour.
Stay safe — when in doubt, throw it out.
Stay safe this summer and picnic on.
For questions about safe home food preservation or to schedule a speaker for organizations or clubs on the topics of food safety or food preservation call the Master Food Preservers at 530-621-5506.
For more information go to the Master Food Preserver Website at cecentralsierra.ucanr.org/Master_Food_Preservers/. Sign up to receive the Master Food Preservers e-newsletter at ucanr.org/mfpenews/.