– As temperatures and barbecues heat up, the DC Department of Health (DOH) reminds residents of the importance of food safety and hydration when preparing for outdoor celebrations this weekend. When cooking both inside and out, it is important for residents to keep in mind that food poisoning can occur by eating food that has not been well cleaned, cooked or stored at appropriate temperatures. In addition, precaution should be taken when preparing and eating foods outside, as illness can result from bacteria and viruses that are passed from person to person, typically from improper hand washing. Symptoms of food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends the following four simple steps to ensure food safety:
Clean – Wash your hands and any food preparation surfaces often with warm, soapy water, particularly after handling raw food and going to the restroom.
Separate – Pack raw food in a separate cooler from any ready-to-eat food items. Always rewash plates, cutting boards, and utensils that have touched raw food before using them again for cooked food.
Cook – Cook food at temperatures high enough to kill harmful bacteria. Poultry should be cooked until an internal temperature of at least 165ºF is reached. Ground beef hamburgers should be cooked until an internal temperature of at least 160ºF is reached.
Chill – Keep perishable items at or below 40ºF by using ice cubes and ice packs. Leftovers should be put in a cooler as quickly as possible. Foods that should be kept cold are considered unsafe when left at 90ºF for more than one hour.
Residents should also take the necessary steps to avoid heat related illnesses. Hot temperatures can cause many medical conditions such as heat exhaustion and stroke; therefore residents are advised to take caution and drink plenty of fluids when outdoors.
DOH Tips for Staying Healthy and Cool in the Heat:
Drink plenty of water
For more information on safe outdoor food practices, visit the USDA Barbecue Food Safety page: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Barbecue_Food_Safety.