Cook and eat safe this summer2 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
Written by: Gina Alderman, Region of Waterloo Public Health
Summer weekends mean lots of socializing and the pleasure of sharing food with friends and family. If you are dining out in Waterloo Region, rest assured that our Public Health Inspectors work with local restaurants and food vendors to make sure food is prepared safely for consumers.
Many of us will be choosing to spend time cooking and eating outdoors, enjoying the summer weather. If you’re donning your chef apron and firing up the grill this weekend, you can do your part to make sure summertime foods are safe by following some easy BBQ food safety tips.
As home cooks, it is important to know that food poisoning can occur more easily in the summer months, as harmful bacteria thrive in warm, moist environments. Food stays safest when it is kept out of the temperature danger zone, between 4°C and 60°C (or 40°F and 140°F). Keeping hot food above 60°C and cold food less than 4°C until serving time is one of the best defenses against food poisoning. To help keep chilled foods cold, try using a separate cooler for drinks. This ensures food being kept in a cooler isn’t exposed to warmer temperatures whenever people go to grab a drink.
To avoid cross-contamination, raw meat should be kept cold and away from other foods while you prepare your meal. Using separate cooking tools for raw and cooked food, and washing, rinsing and sanitizing anything that comes in contact with raw food are also good food safety practices. When it is time to cook, make sure that your BBQ is preheated and use a probe thermometer to check that the meat is cooked to an appropriate internal temperature before serving.
When you and your guests finish feasting, don’t get distracted by fun and forget to put any extra food away in the fridge or cooler. Food can become dangerous when left in the temperature danger zone for more than two hours, and you’ll want to enjoy your leftovers the next day with the peace of mind that they are safe to eat.