Eating outdoors? Beware of food poisoning

(NC) It can be challenging to ensure the safety of food at this time of year as temperatures soar and we head outdoors to enjoy picnics, barbecues and camping trips. This is because harmful bacteria grow quickly in warm, moist conditions.

Here are some outdoor food safety tips to help keep you and your family safe during the summer.

Chill. Store your food in a cooler with ice packs while on the go. Keep it out of direct sunlight and the internal temperature at or below 4°C (39°F). Try using separate coolers for food and drinks so that food stays colder longer.

Separate. Keep your raw meat, poultry and seafood separate from other foods in containers or plastic bags to avoid leaks and spreading bacteria. Put raw meat, poultry and seafood at the bottom of the cooler to keep juices from dripping onto other foods.

Clean. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Sanitize your utensils, cutting boards and work surfaces with a mild bleach solution (5 mL bleach mixed with 750 mL of water in a spray bottle) before and after use, just like you do at home. Rinse with fresh water and air dry.

Cook. Bacteria are killed by heat. Raw meat, poultry and seafood must be cooked to a safe internal temperature to eliminate harmful bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria. Use a digital thermometer and check the below Government of Canada food safety website for the safe internal cooking temperatures for beef, poultry, pork, and other foods.

Plate and store. Use a clean plate when taking food off the grill. Never put ready-to-eat or cooked food on a plate that was used for uncooked meat. Keeping several clean utensils, cutting boards and plates on hand will help you prevent cross-contamination. If you have leftovers, cool food quickly in shallow containers. On hot summer days, don't keep food at room temperature for more than one hour.

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