By Rima Kandalaft, MS, RD, CSP, clinical dietitian at CHOC Children’s
Picnics, grilling, and enjoying good food al fresco with friends and family are in full swing. Unfortunately, cases of foodborne illness rise with rising temperatures. Each year about one in ten Americans has an illness caused by food. Here are a few tips to help keep your family safe:
• Keep hot food hot and cold foods cold:
Hot Foods – 140 degrees F. and above
Cold Foods – 40 degrees F. or below
Do not leave food at room temperature longer than 2 hours (1 hour if temperatures are hot >90 F).
• If in doubt, throw it out. If you have any question in your mind about the freshness or safety of eating a food product, throw it out. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
• Have enough coolers with ice or frozen gel packs to store perishable foods like meat, poultry, fish, eggs and salads. Pack foods right from the refrigerator into the coolers.
• Don’t put the cooler in the car trunk; Carry it inside an air-conditioned car. At picnics, keep the cooler in the shade and keep the lid closed. Replenish the ice if it melts.
• Use a separate cooler for drinks so the one containing the food won’t constantly be opened and closed.
Keep your family safe from foodborne illness by following the CLEAN, SEPARATE, COOK and CHILL guidelines by the Food Safety and Inspection Service. To learn more, please visit www. fsis.usda.gov.