Published on July 01, 2019

Summer Food Safety

PELLA, Iowa— Summer is a perfect time for outdoor picnics and barbecues with friends and family, but also a time that presents many opportunities for foodborne bacteria to thrive and multiply. 1 in 6 Americans are stricken with food poisoning each year with a total of 128,000 estimated annual hospitalizations from foodborne illnesses.

“The dangers of not preparing, cooking and serving food properly can lead to food poisoning,” said Jen Weidenaar, RN, BSN, at Pella Regional. “This can cause upset stomach and/or diarrhea, and may lead to hospitalization for supportive treatment. It can also be considered a public health outbreak if the contaminated food is served to multiple people and many get sick.”  

Some common safety tips to keep in mind during the grilling season to avoid foodborne illnesses are proper handling and preparation of food. “It is important to prevent and avoid foodborne illnesses,” said Weidenaar. “Before firing up the grill for summertime cookouts, remember to clean, separate, cook and chill.”

Clean: Germs can survive on your hands, utensils, and cutting boards.

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, scrubbing the back of your hands, between fingers, and under nails. To prevent cross contamination, make sure to wash your hands each and every time after handling raw meat.
  • Wash surfaces and utensils with soap and hot water after each use.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before you peel or cut them.
  • Do not wash meat or poultry. This can cause bacteria from the raw meat and poultry juices to splash and spread to other foods, utensils, and surfaces.

Separate: Germs are spread by cross-contamination.

  • Use separate cutting boards, plates, and utensils for uncooked produce (e.g., vegetables, fruits) and uncooked meat, poultry, and seafood.
  • Separate meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from other foods in your shopping cart at the grocery store.
  • Separate meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from all other foods in your refrigerator.

Cook: Cook to the right temperature.

  • Use a food thermometer to make sure food is cooked to the right temperature.
  • Internal temperatures: whole meats at 145°F; ground meats at 160°F; and, poultry at 165°F.

Chill: Refrigerate promptly and properly.

  • Refrigerate perishable food within two hours.