For many Americans, summer holidays mean spending more time cooking and entertaining outside. To ensure a safe, fun, and poison-free summer, consider the following holiday cooking precautions when preparing, cooking, and storing food:
- When preparing foods always wash your hands, kitchen surfaces, utensils, and cutting boards. Washing your hands along with materials used to prep is especially important after handling or preparing uncooked food and before touching or eating foods. If you're outside at a picnic and can't wash your hands (or your children’s hands), use an antibacterial hand sanitizer. If you have questions or suspect a poisoning from hand sanitizer, call the Poison Help Hotline at 1-800-222-1222 immediately. Poison Help is also available by visiting Poisonhelp.org.
- Using a food thermometer while cooking is an easy-to-implement strategy to check if your meat has reached the internal temperature required to kill harmful bacteria. The bacteria that causes food poisoning multiply quickest between 40˚ and 140˚ Fahrenheit. In general, it’s best to keep hot food hot, and cold food cold.
- Refrigerate leftovers within two hours to reduce the risk of bacterial growth. Prevent cross-contamination by completely covering and securing foods in the refrigerator. Freeze or dispose of leftovers within 3-4 days. Also, remember to store alcohol out of children's reach and not in an easily accessible cooler.
In addition to preparing, cooking, and storing foods, remember to avoid wild mushrooms and other plants that can be toxic while enjoying meals outside.
Following these simple precautions can prevent food poisoning while cooking and entertaining outside.
If you have any questions about food poisoning, or if you or someone you know suspects a poisoning, call the Poison Help Hotline at 1-800-222-1222.