Warm summer weather means it’s time to have picnics, go hiking, and enjoy the great outdoors. However, food safety should be a top priority when planning these activities.
According to the Center for Disease Control, approximately 48 million people experience food poisoning every year, resulting in more than 3,000 deaths. No one wants to experience these tragedies while enjoying their summer fun. Understanding the hazards of food-borne disease is a crucial step to maintaining your safety. The guidelines below will help keep you and your food healthy and safe.
Bacteria grows fastest in wet climates with temperatures from 90 to 100 degrees, making hot, humid summer days the perfect recipe for food disaster. A good rule of thumb is to never leave food unrefrigerated for more than two hours if under 90 degrees, and 1 hour if over 90 degrees. If you are packing a cooler with both ice and food, be sure to store the food, especially raw meat, in watertight containers. This will help avoid mixing food with melting ice. Since the beverage cooler will be opened more often and cause the contents to warm up faster, it is better to pack food and beverages separately. Also, be sure to pack a separate platter for cooked meat. Keep your food at 40 degrees or colder to ensure safety.
Grilling is a fun way to spend a hot summer day, but it’s vital to practice grill safety. In addition to harboring loads of bacteria, grills can be infiltrated by bees and wasps who build their nests inside, making the device dangerous for inattentive cooks. Use care when uncovering the grill to avoid being stung. Nests can grow quickly, so check every time you use the equipment. Once you start cooking, use a thermometer to check if the meat has reached a safe temperature. Safe temperatures range from 140 F for solid items such as steak and fish, 160 F for ground meat, and 165 F for poultry.
Picnics are another great way to spend your summer. Make sure you bring clean water to your picnic if none is available on site. You also need to handle your food with care. Clean your hands before and after handling raw meat, and wash utensils and dishes used for uncooked food before using them again. Bring hand sanitizer and wipes to keep yourself clean during your outing.
Enjoying a day of fishing is a fun way to spend time outdoors. Nothing tastes better than fresh fish, but if you plan to eat what you catch, check first with local authorities to make sure you are fishing in safe areas. Safe storage of your catch is another essential consideration. Live fish can be kept on a stringer or in a container, but ensure they have enough room to move and breathe. If you are not keeping the fish alive, they should be cleaned and gutted as soon as possible. Keep them on ice in watertight packaging, alternating between layers of fish and ice. Fresh fish can be kept frozen or cooked within one or two days. However, shellfish, such as lobsters, crabs, and clams, must be kept alive until cooked.
Protecting yourself from food poisoning is crucial for your health, but it can also protect you from a potential lawsuit. Rockingham Insurance can help you avoid expensive lawsuits for injuries or illnesses due to food poisoning. Our umbrella insurance policy can help protect your home, vehicle, and family’s financial future. To learn more about how Rockingham Insurance is here to help you, contact a local agent today.