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July 1, 2014

Clean, separate, cook and chill

Summer has its fair share of safety items that come along with it — bicycle helmets, life jackets, sunscreen, just to name a few. 

I hate to add another realm to the list, but being food safe gets a little more complicated in the summer, as well.

In the summer we often cook and eat outdoors, where controlling cleanliness and temperature may be a battle. 

There are four basic steps of food safety.

CLEAN

Washing hands, rinsing produce, sanitizing surfaces, cleaning contaminated areas. 

For the most part, antibacterial soaps are not necessary as suds formed by using regular soap and water will help lift the bacteria from your skin, and then rinsing and drying your hands will remove them.

Since counters cannot be put into hot soapy water, rinsed and dried, finding a sanitizer for surfaces is a good idea, especially where raw meat has been handled.

SEPARATE

This step refers to keeping the more dangerous foods away from the less dangerous foods, or the foods you may eat raw or less cooked.

Raw meat, seafood and poultry have bacteria that can be dangerous to us if we consume it.

Cooking these things will kill that bacteria, but prior to cooking keep meats separate.

Any cutting boards, utensils and serving dishes should be cleaned after they have been used on raw meat, poultry or fish before using for any other food.

COOK AND CHILL

A big part of keeping food safe is controlling the temperature of perishable foods.

Keeping food cold (below 40 F) will slow the bacterial growth on that food, and cooking food to the proper temperatures will kill most of the bacteria found in these foods. 

The minimum safe internal temperature for cuts of raw beef, pork, lamb and veal is 145 F; for ground beef, pork, lamb and veal the minimum safe internal temperature is 160 F; and all poultry should be cooked to at least 165 F. Plan to have perishable food returned to 40 F within two hours.

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