Don’t let spoiled food spoil the fun!

Keeping food safe in summer



photoDr. Alan Melnick, Health Officer, Clark County Public Health

Enjoy the foods of summer!

With these tips for avoiding foodborne illness, I’d like to offer another reminder: take advantage of the fresh foods of the season.

Fruits and vegetables are at their best. Eat lots of them, and try to purchase from farm stands, farmers markets—or grow your own!

Locally grown food tends to be tastier and healthier. Visit Clark County Public Health online for more healthy eating information.

Healthy & Local food

— Eating outside on a warm day is one of the pleasures of summertime. To keep the time honored rituals of picnics and barbeques safe and fun, remember to take extra care when preparing and serving food outdoors, away from the convenience of refrigeration and hot running water.

Unwashed hands, undercooked meats, cross-contamination from raw meats to other foods, and eating unwashed fruits and vegetables can spread E.coli, Salmonella, and other bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses. Some common questions include:

We barbeque a lot in summer. What temperatures are best for meats?

Use a thermometer to ensure meats are cooked thoroughly. Recommended temperatures:

  • Ground beef, hamburgers, egg dishes, and pork: 160 °F.
  • Steaks, roasts, and fish: 145 °F.
  • Hot dogs, chicken breasts, ground chicken and turkey, casseroles, stuffing: 165 °F.

What’s the best way to avoid cross contamination from raw meat to other food?

  • Use separate utensils, cutting boards and dishware for raw meat and don’t allow raw meat juices to contaminate other food.
  • Use a clean plate for foods that come off the grill rather than reusing the plate that held raw meat.
  • Don’t use the uncooked sauce you used to marinate raw meat or poultry on cooked food.
  • Store raw meats in watertight containers separately from other foods.

How should I store food out of refrigeration?

  • If refrigeration is unavailable, store food in an insulated cooler with sufficient ice or ice packs to keep the food at 40°F or below. Keep the cooler in the shade.
  • Marinate food in the refrigerator, not on the counter.
  • Keep fruits and vegetables cold until eaten.
  • Serve hot foods immediately after cooking. Throw away prepared food that sits out for more than two hours.

Can I use the microwave to thaw meat?

  • You can microwave defrost if the food will be placed immediately on the grill. Otherwise, use the refrigerator for slow, safe thawing.
  • Completely thaw meat and poultry before grilling so it cooks more evenly.

How often do I need to wash my hands?

  • Frequently. Wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after you handle food, especially raw meat.
  • Wash hands before eating.
  • If possible, prepare food at home where soap and running water are available.
  • If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer.

Do I need to wash organic fruits and vegetables?

Yes. Wash all whole uncut fruits, including melons, and vegetables. Use running water.