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Fill-in-Blank News Release for County Health Departments

For Release: _____, 2005
Contact: __________
_____ County Health Department
(Phone)

Outdoor Eating Food Safety Tips

The picnic and barbeque season that began on Memorial Day weekend is sure to continue for several weeks ahead. To protect yourself, your family, and friends from foodborne illness, the _____ County Health Department suggests practicing safe food handling techniques when eating outdoors this summer. Keep these tips in mind when preparing, storing, and cooking food for picnics and barbecues.

When You Transport Food:

  • Keep cold food cold. Place cold food in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs. Cold food should be held at or below 40F. Consider packing beverages in one cooler and perishable foods in another.
  • Meat, poultry, and seafood may be packed while still frozen so that they stay colder longer. Be sure to keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood securely wrapped so their juices don’t contaminate cooked foods or foods eaten raw such as fruits and vegetables.
  • Before packing, rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten. For firm-skin fruits and vegetables, scrub with a clean vegetable brush while rinsing. Dry fruits and vegetables with a clean cloth towel or paper towel. Packaged fruits and vegetables labeled “ready-to-eat,” “washed,” or “triple washed” need not be washed.
  • Keep the cooler in the air-conditioned passenger compartment of your car, rather than in a hot trunk. Limit the times the cooler is opened.

Before Preparing Food:

  • Food safety begins with hand washing, even in outdoor settings. And it can be as simple as using a water jug, some soap, and paper towels, or consider using moist disposable towelettes for cleaning your hands.
  • Keep all utensils and platters clean when preparing food.

Safe Grilling Tips:

  • Marinate foods in the refrigerator, not on the counter or outdoors. If some of the marinade is to be used as a sauce on the cooked food, reserve a portion separately before adding the raw meat, poultry, or seafood. Don't reuse marinade.
  • Don't use the same platter and utensils that previously held raw meat or seafood to serve cooked meats and seafood.
  • If you partially cook food in the microwave, oven, or stove to reduce grilling time, do so immediately before the food goes on the hot grill.
  • When it's time to cook the food, cook it thoroughly. Use a food thermometer to be sure.
  • Beef, veal, and lamb steaks and roasts-145F for medium rare, 160F for medium, and 170F for well done.
  • Ground pork and ground beef-160F.
  • Ground poultry-165F.
  • Poultry breasts-170F.
  • Whole poultry (take measurement in the thigh)-180F.
  • Fin fish-145F or until the flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork.
  • Shrimp, lobster, and crabs-the meat should be pearly and opaque.
  • Clams, oysters, and mussels-until the shells are open.
  • Grilled food can be kept hot until served by moving it to the side of the grill rack, just away from the coals where it can overcook.

When You Serve Food:

  • Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.
  • Do not use a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood for anything else unless the plate has first been washed in hot, soapy water.
  • Hot food should be kept hot, at or above 140 F. Wrap well and place in an insulated container.
  • Foods like chicken salad and desserts in individual serving dishes can also be placed directly on ice, or in a shallow container set in a deep pan filled with ice. Drain off water as ice melts and replace ice frequently.
  • Don’t let perishable food sit out longer than two hours.
  • Food should not sit out for more than one hour in temperatures above 90F.

For more information on outdoor food safety, contact the _____ County Health Department at (phone number).

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