It’s the season for firing up the grill, packing a picnic or escaping on vacation. But don’t bite into your hamburger or get that second helping of macaroni salad just yet. Hot weather and certain foods just don’t mix safely.
The biggest myth is that you can leave food out and it’s still safe to eat, said Tonia Burford, supervisor for the Division of Environmental Health at the Summit County Health District.
Put these on ice after an hour out of the fridge. And note they can become dangerous to eat if left out more than 4 hours:
- Cut tomatoes
These tips from Burford could prevent some serious food poisoning:
- Forget late-night snacks or leftovers. Toss any perishable that has been without ice for more than an hour.
- Keep cold foods cold, at temperatures below 41 degrees Fahrenheit, And keep hot foods hot, above 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything else is considered unsafe.
- Wash hands before starting to cook and when changing tasks like handling raw chicken and fixing salad. Wipe down any surfaces, plates and utensils used, too.
- Use an insulated cooler filled with ice packs rather than ice, which could cross contaminate food. Keep a thermometer in the cooler to make sure it’s cool.
- If the cooler is going to be in the hot car all day while at a theme park Cedar Point, eat lunch first, then ride coasters — not the other way around.
- Pack non-perishables like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, snacks, some processed cheeses and fresh fruit salad without melons. Hint: many commercially prepared salad dressings and condiments say refrigerate for quality but don’t require it.
- Use a digital meat thermometer. Wait at least 15 seconds before checking the temperature from the thickest part of the meat before serving. Recommended food temperatures can be found on the FDA website.