Memorial Day weekend is here, and many people are gearing up for outdoor celebrations and picnics. As the summer season kicks off, it’s crucial to be mindful of food safety to prevent spoilage and foodborne illnesses from ruining the festivities. 

To ensure that your food is safe to eat, it’s essential to follow some important guidelines.

Proper Handwashing:

  • Follow proper handwashing steps before, during, and after food preparation.
  • Wet hands, lather with soap, scrub for 20 seconds, rinse, and dry.

The Two-Hour Rule:

  • Refrigerate perishable items within two hours (one hour if the temperature is 90 degrees F or higher).
  • Food left out for more than two hours should be discarded to prevent foodborne illnesses.
Click to enlarge. Courtesy of the USDA

Use a Food Thermometer:

  • Check internal temperature with a food thermometer for safe eating.
  • Insert the thermometer in the thickest part of the meat or through the side for burgers.
  • Different foods have specific temperature requirements (e.g., steaks, ground meats, poultry).

Separation of Raw Meats and ready-to-eat foods:

  • Use separate coolers for raw meats/poultry and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Have separate plates and utensils for handling raw and cooked foods.

Temperature Considerations:

  • Perishable food should be left out for no more than one hour in temperatures above 90 degrees F.
  • Store cold foods on ice, in coolers, or in the refrigerator/freezer.
  • Keep hot perishable foods above 140 degrees F until consumed.

Reheating Food before serving:

  • Cover and rotate food in the microwave for even heating.
  • Check the internal temperature with a food thermometer after reheating.
  • Bring sauces, soups, and gravies to a rolling boil when reheating.
  • Avoid using slow cookers for reheating.

As you prepare for your Memorial Day celebration, keep these outdoor food safety tips in mind to protect yourself and your loved ones from foodborne illnesses. Following these guidelines will help ensure that your picnic or get-together is a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

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