Steps You Can Take to Prevent Foodborne Illnesses This Summer – Advice from the Doctors at South Tampa Immediate Care

prevent-food-borne-illnessSummer is a time for camping, picnics, barbeques, and other outdoor activities. Unfortunately, the risk of foodborne illness increases during vacation season because bacteria can multiply rapidly in the hot, humid weather. The cardinal rule of prevention is to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. The “Danger Zone” is temperatures ranging between 40 degrees and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Perishable food that remains in the Danger Zone for more than two hours (or one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit) can become unsafe to consume due to the possible presence of dangerous toxins.

Foodborne illness can often be avoided through proper food storage, careful preparation, and simple hygiene. The following food-handling strategies can help keep your family healthy when the safety controls of your kitchen, such as refrigeration, temperature-controlled cooking, and running water, are unavailable:

  • Store perishables in an insulated cooler – Use several inches of ice cubes, ice packs, or containers of frozen water, and place the cooler in a shaded area, if possible.

  • Thoroughly clean fruits and vegetables – Rinse all produce under running tap water (do not soak), and use a vegetable brush on firm-skinned items. Dry with a clean towel.

  • Securely wrap all foods – Be sure to keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood in separate, tightly sealed containers to avoid cross-contamination and prevent juices from leaking onto fruits, vegetables, and other foods that may be eaten raw.

  • Keep drinks in a separate cooler – As people seek to quench their thirst in the heat, the drink cooler will be opened frequently; therefore, it’s best to pack the perishables separately so they remain fresh and cold until you are ready to use them.

  • Keep cooked food warm – After grilling, move the food to the side of the grill to keep it warm but not overcooked.

  • Wash your hands – Keep a water jug on hand, along with some soap and paper towels, or use sanitizer wipes to clean hands and surfaces before eating.

  • When in doubt – Throw it out.

By following these simple steps while dining alfresco, you can ensure a healthy and worry-free barbeque season for you and your family. For more helpful tips, be sure to check out our online series of health articles. If you have questions, feel free to contact or visit a Tampa doctor at the South Tampa Immediate Care walk-in clinic.