Cook up some safety this summer

In the summer, it is important to practice safe food handling when preparing foods such as poultry, meat, seafood, egg and other perishable items. Although the warmer weather is perfect for enjoying a meal outdoors, it can also provide an environment for bacteria and cause illness. Follow these suggestions to reduce the risk of foodborne illness this summer.

Always wash your hands before and after handling food. You can also use disposable wipes or biodegradable soap for hand and dishwashing.

When grilling food, preheat the coals on your grill for 20 to 30 minutes and use a food thermometer to ensure that the food reaches a safe internal temperature. Hamburgers should be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Roasts and steaks may be cooked to 145 degrees for medium rare or 160 degrees for medium. Poultry must reach a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas, fish should be opaque and flake easily. When taking food off the grill, do not put cooked food items back on the same plate that held the raw food, unless it has been washed.

Cold food, such as luncheon meats or potato salad, should always be kept cold in an insulated cooler packed with ice. The cooler should also be out of direct sun and in the shade whenever possible. If you are unable to bring a cooler, pack only foods that are safe without refrigeration, such as fruits, vegetables or peanut butter.

You will need to stay hydrated during the warm weather, thus always remember to bring bottled water. Otherwise, boil water or use water purification tablets to avoid bacteria.