Summer Food Safety
As temperatures rise, so can the risk of illness from improperly stored or cooked foods. Let WVU Extension Service, the USDA, and other government agencies guide you to a healthful and happy summer meal.
Summer Cooking Safety
With temperatures soaring and picnics occurring every weekend, the summer cooking season is in full swing. Unfortunately, the risk of becoming sick from eating these mouthwatering goodies also soars.
According to the USDA, foodborne illnesses in the U.S. double during the summer months.
Cindy Fitch, director of the Families and Health program at WVU Extension Service, has provided some useful tips and helpful reminders to some of the most frequently asked questions about food safety.
What are some symptoms and risks of foodborne illnesses?
According to Fitch, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps are first recognized symptoms of a foodborne illness. She included that those with weak immune systems, such as the elderly and young children, are especially vulnerable and can even succumb to death. However, some illnesses like botulism can affect anyone regardless of age or health.
“Botulism is especially dangerous and is developed from ill properly canned foods and can result in paralysis or even death,” said Fitch.
How can people prevent these illnesses?
The most well known illness is food poisoning which occurs when food or beverages contaminated with bacteria and are consumed.
Preventing these illnesses can be easy by following some simple reminders, according to Fitch.
“Washing hands frequently when handling foods, following food safety guidelines listed on the packages and not cross-contaminating foods with each other can protect you from getting sick,” she said.
Fitch also noted that preparing meals and storing leftovers in the appropriate temperatures can keep illnesses away. Even some meals bought directly from the local grocery store can become unsafe if they are not kept at appropriate temperature levels for an extended period of time.
What foods are most likely to become unsafe to eat?“Home prepared foods and foods that contain protein like chicken, ground beef, other meat and eggs are at most risk,” said Fitch.
Fitch also noted to watch for any food recalls. If you purchase any of these recalled foods, do not consume any contaminated foods and dispose of them carefully.
Are there any slogans or phrases that can remind people about food safety?
Fitch stated some of the most popular slogans to remind people about food safety. They include:
- When in doubt, throw it out! If you have any concerns over the safety of an item, dispose of it immediately and properly.
- Fight BAC reminds you to always “fight back” against bacteria when preparing snacks.
- The two hour rule that states foods that have been at room temperature for two hours or more should be discarded and not consumed.
Follow the USDA’s guidelines about food safety and don’t “spoil” your next party by serving undercooked or ill prepared food.
For more information about properly preparing and serving food, contact your local WVU Extension County office.
Picnic Recipe Favorites
Check out these healthy summer recipes from the WVU Extension Service Family Nutrition Programs
- Light and Easy Rotini Salad
- Broccoli Salad
- Baked Pork Chops
- Chili Bean Sloppy Joes
- Mango Strawberry Sno Cones
- Strawberry Summer Delight
View the USDA guidelines for safely cooking outdoors. The topics include thawing, marinating, transporting and cooking summertime favorites. View the guidelines…
The National Fire Protection Association offers tips for safely using propane and charcoal grills.