Don't Forget These Summer Food Safety Tips - Healthy recipes and cooking tips for a healthier lifestyle

Don't Forget These Summer Food Safety Tips

June 8, 2022
Don't Forget These Summer Food Safety Tips

If you’re hosting an outdoor meal or celebration, these summer food safety tips should be top of mind.

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Planning an outdoor get-together? You have more to do than decide on the menu. When serving food, especially outdoors, it's important to make food safety a top priority. Taking the time now to review these important summer tips makes it more likely everyone will enjoy your planned get-together.

Here are some summer food safety tips that help ensure that you and your guests won’t get sick when dining al fresco. We’ve also included some popular summer party recipes that are sure to please and will keep guests coming back for more.

Hot Food Tips 

It’s important to keep hot foods hot. Here are some ways to make that happen:

  1. Use a chafing dish that warms food with hot water that sits in a tray under the food. To avoid splashing and prevent burns, carry hot water in a teapot and pour it into the dish once you’re at the serving table.
  2. Use canned heat to keep foods hot in elevated warming trays. The lid can be used to set the desired height of the flame so food is hot enough but not too hot. Make sure canned heat isn’t placed next to anything flammable.
  3. Use an electric food warmer or slow cooker to keep food warm if you have access to electricity (make sure cords are not a tripping hazard).
  4. Keep dishes covered to retain heat when food is not being served or cover food with aluminum foil.
  5. Hot foods should be kept at a temperature of 140oF or warmer to avoid bacteria growth. Check temperatures with a food thermometer.

Hot Summer Party Recipes

BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders

Cold Food Tips

It’s equally important to keep cold food cold. There are several ways you can accomplish this:

  1. Place bowls of food over an ice bath (a larger bowl filled with ice cubes). 
  2. Freeze serving trays and bowls before filling them with food.
  3. Use metal or ceramic bowls and plates. Plastic does not keep food as cold.
  4. Keep individual items, like drinks, in a closed cooler filled with ice.
  5. Use a thermometer to ensure cold food remains at 40oF or below.

Cold Summer Party Recipes

Mango Habanero Salsa

Other Summer Food Safety Tips

  1. When bringing out fresh food, use new pans and utensils. Do not add new food to food that has been sitting out for a while.
  2. Don’t forget drinks, appetizers, and desserts—these should also be kept hot or cold, as appropriate.
  3. If transporting food, keep food separated to prevent cross-contamination. Pack cooked or ready-to-eat foods in different containers depending on whether the food is cold or hot. Pack raw food by itself.
  4. Don’t let perishable food sit out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. If temperatures are over 90oF, food should not be left out for more than an hour.
  5. If there is no place to wash hands before eating or serving food, offer guests hand sanitizer or wipes.

Other Summer Party Recipes

Tropical Lemonade

Summer Food Safety Tips FAQ

How can I prevent food poisoning during summer?

Keep perishable foods refrigerated until ready to use, and cook meats to the appropriate temperature.

What is the best way to store leftovers in hot weather?

Store leftovers in shallow containers and refrigerate them within two hours, or within one hour if the temperature is above 90°F.

How long can food sit out at a picnic or barbecue?

Perishable food should not sit out for more than two hours, or one hour if the temperature is above 90°F.

How can I keep food cold without a refrigerator?

Use coolers with ice packs, keeping the cooler in a shaded area and opening it as infrequently as possible.

What are safe internal cooking temperatures for meats?

Poultry should reach 165°F, ground meats 160°F, and steaks, chops, and fish 145°F.

How can I avoid cross-contamination at a barbecue?

Use separate plates and utensils for raw and cooked foods, and wash hands and surfaces frequently.

Is it safe to marinate meat at room temperature?

No, always marinate meat in the refrigerator to prevent bacterial growth.

What should I do if I suspect food poisoning?

Stay hydrated, rest, and seek medical attention if symptoms are severe or persistent.

Can I refreeze thawed meat?

You can refreeze meat if it was thawed in the refrigerator and hasn't been out for more than two days.

How can I tell if food has gone bad in the heat?

Look for changes in color, texture, and smell, and when in doubt, throw it out.

How can I safely handle food at a beach picnic?

Keep food in a cooler with ice packs, and avoid exposing it to direct sunlight.

Can I leave food in a hot car?

No, avoid leaving perishable food in a hot car as bacteria can multiply rapidly.

What foods are most at risk for summer spoilage?

Dairy products, meats, eggs, and salads with mayonnaise are most at risk.

How do I safely grill meats?

Grill meats to their safe internal temperatures and avoid cross-contamination by using separate utensils for raw and cooked items. For detailed guidance, check out our blog on How Long to Grill Chicken Breast.

Should I wash fruits and vegetables before eating?

Yes, wash all fruits and vegetables under running water before eating or preparing them.

Can I eat food that has been left out overnight?

No, perishable food left out overnight should be discarded to prevent foodborne illness.

How can I ensure my cooler stays cold during a long outing?

Pack the cooler with plenty of ice packs and keep it in a shaded area, opening it only when necessary.

What are the signs of foodborne illness?

Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever.

How do I safely transport hot food to a picnic?

Use insulated containers to keep hot food at 140°F or above until serving.

Is it safe to eat raw seafood in the summer?

Be cautious with raw seafood in the summer as higher temperatures can increase the risk of contamination.

Keeping food safe to eat is as important as making sure it tastes good. So in addition to trying the summer party recipes highlighted here, bump up the fun factor of your next outdoor get-together by following these summer food tips so no one gets sick from the food you serve. For more inspiration, check out our Fresh and Delicious Healthy Summer Recipes and Amazingly Healthy Grilling Tips and Recipes.

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