Main Article: Summer Food Safety

Main Article:  Summer Food Safety

Written by Kelli Baker | Reviewed by Laura Kahn MS, RDN, CDN

Summer is just around the corner and the majority of us are looking forward to warmer temperatures and more time outdoors.  This also means an increase in fun food opportunities like barbeques and picnics with friends and family.  Often times these outdoor food festivities along with a rise in temperature can result in a heightened risk of food borne illnesses.  The warm summer temperature presents the perfect environment for pathogenic growth if you are not careful with how you handle and manage your food.   Each year approximately 1 in 6 Americans will be infected with some type of food poisoning, however, don’t let this scare you away from enjoying the summer sun and food outdoors!  There are some simple and manageable ways to avoid exposing you and your loved ones to potentially dangerous bacteria.  Below are some tips to keep your summer festivities healthy and happy.

  •  It is important to wash hands, surfaces and utensils with soap and water before prepping and handling food.  Additionally, wash and rinse all produce prior to peeling or chopping.
  • When grilling food outdoors, be sure to separate plates, utensils and cutting boards used for raw meats, cooked meats, and ready-to-eat, prepared foods like vegetables and pasta salads to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Use an insulated cooler to keep items cold.  Fill cooler with ice or frozen gel packs to ensure colder temperatures for a longer duration.  Also, avoid placing the cooler in direct sunlight and repeatedly opening the lid as this will melt and thaw gel packs faster.
  • Foods that need to be kept cold and in the cooler include raw meat, poultry, and seafood, deli meats, and summer salads (such as egg salad or macaroni salad) made with mayonnaise, eggs, and dairy products.  When serving, keep these foods out of direct sunlight.
  • Avoid spoiling foods by serving small portions and keeping the remainder in the cooler instead of out on the table.
  • Keep raw meats cold until ready to grill and be sure to use a thermometer to make sure they are cooked thoroughly.  Below are the minimum internal temperatures to follow.

145 degrees F—Beef, pork, lamb, veal, fish and seafood

160 degrees F—Ground meats

165 degrees F—Poultry

  • Keep cooked meats from the grill above 140 degrees F or warmer at all times. This can be achieved by purchasing a Sterno canister or other portable food warming system.
  • Perishable foods should not be left in direct sunlight for longer than two hours.  If outdoor temperatures exceed 90 degrees F, perishable food should not be left out for more than one hour.

If you keep all these tips in mind,  your days of outdoor summer fun and eating should remain safe, happy and healthy for you and your loved ones. 


F. (2009, August 23). Summer and Vacations. Retrieved April 24, 2017, from



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