Memorial Day is almost here and aside from basking in the glory of a 3 day weekend, most of us are preparing our outdoor grills or making plans to attend a barbecue at a friend or neighbor’s house. It’s a tradition for the official start of the summer season! What’s not to love? Food poisoning.
It’s probably the last thing on your minds, but illness caused from foodborne pathogens can put a major damper on your otherwise enjoyable, extended weekend and put your health at a severe risk. As such – while we hate to take the focus off the fun and frivolity of Memorial Day Weekend – we just want to take a moment to remind you that a little careful preparation can go a long way in ensuring your holiday goes as footloose and fancy-free as you’d hoped.
Here are some food safety tips for making sure food poisoning never ends up crashing your party this weekend.
- Always wash your hands. There is no such thing as washing your hands too much when you are preparing food for yourself and others. Different foods you might be handling, raw meat for one, should never come into contact with each other and many things you might touch throughout the day, particularly in the bathroom, should never come into contact with your food. Washing your hands often, with soap and water, will ensure this is never an issue.
- Thaw and marinate properly. Frozen meat should be defrosted in the refrigerator. The only time you should defrost or partially cook food in the microwave is when you are going to grill it immediately after. Marinating should be done in the refrigerator as well. Remember to set aside some marinade for later if you wish to use it on cooked meat. Never use marinade that has contained raw meat as a sauce for cooked.
- Be sure to cook food thoroughly. Carefully cooking food will kill any harmful bacteria that might be present. If you’re not sure you will be able to determine if your food is properly cooked, invest in a food thermometer. The general rule of thumb for food temperatures is 160°F for hamburgers and other ground meats, 165°F for hot dogs, grilled chicken or any type of poultry and 145°F for steaks, roasts and chops (with an additional 3 minutes of rest before eating).
- Always keep raw and cooked food separate. You should always use separate trays for raw food going onto the grill and cooked food coming off. Never reuse a raw food tray without cleaning it thoroughly with soap and water.
- Try to keep cold food cold and hot food hot. Cold foods, especially side salads made with a cream or mayonnaise dressing, should be kept cold. Using an ice buffet or simply placing your dishes back into the refrigerator periodically is a good idea. If your hot foods have sat out for a little while you can reheat them in the oven or just store them away in the refrigerator. If party guests want more food they can reheat it later. It’s much better to be safe than sorry.
- Once the initial meal is over with, relocate all food to the refrigerator. Your food might be completely bacteria free, but that doesn’t mean that flies or any other unsavory party crashers might not gain access to it.
- Bon appetite! You’ve now taken every important precaution necessary to keep yourself and your guests perfectly safe while enjoying a long awaited Memorial Day barbeque. Give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy!