Pictured, Luensman Overlook Park in Portland, N.Y.
MAYVILLE, N.Y.: - Memorial Day kicked off the official start of summer. The Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture remind individuals to prevent foodborne illness before they light up their grills and pack up their coolers. Hot and humid weather combined with outdoor activities, provide the perfect environment for harmful bacteria to multiply on food and make people sick.
Individuals can fill their picnic baskets with these items that will help keep their summer fun while handling food at summer gatherings:
• If running water is not available, bring soap, paper towels, hand sanitizer or moist towelettes. This will help keep hands clean throughout the day especially after handling any raw meat or poultry.
• Avoid cross contamination by using clean plates and utensils. Don’t place cooked food on a plate that once held raw meat or poultry.
• Bring a couple of portable coolers – one for perishable foods and one for beverages– filled with ice. Perishable items like raw chicken, burgers or appetizers like fresh salsa, guacamole or bean salads should be kept at 40F or below.
• Don’t forget the food thermometer! Cook meat and poultry to the safe internal temperatures. Checking the temperature is the only way to know if food is safe to consume. USDA recommended safe minimum internal temperatures are:
o Beef, pork, lamb and veal (steaks, roasts and chops): 145°F with a three-minute rest time
o Fish: 145°F
o Ground meats (beef, veal, lamb, pork): 160°F
o Whole poultry, poultry breasts and ground poultry: 165°F
• Bring the right amount of food that will be consumed at the picnic, but if individuals have some leftovers, don’t leave them outdoors for more than two hours.
Chautauqua County Commissioner of Health and Human Services, Christine Schuyler, said, “Foodborne illnesses can be prevented by properly handling food at home or outdoors. Make sure to follow our four steps - Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill - to food safety all year and during special summer occasions.”
Need more food safety information? Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854 Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, or email or chat at AskKaren.gov.