With July 4 cook-outs, picnics and trips to the lake on many people’s agendas, Oklahoma Health Department is offering tips to prevent foodborne illnesses that would take the fun out of the day.
Although most food-related illnesses are mild and cause symptoms for only a day or two, some are serious enough to result in hospitalization and deaths.
OSDH recommends the following basic food safety tips.
• Wash hands with hot, soapy water before touching food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers or touching pets.
• Wash cutting boards, counters, dishes and utensils with hot, soapy water after working with each food item.
• Find a source of clean water if eating away from home or bring water for preparation and cleaning. Pack clean cloths and wet towelettes for cleaning surfaces and hands.
• Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods such as fruits and vegetables. When transporting raw meat or poultry, double wrap to prevent juices from the raw product from dripping on other foods.
• Use a separate cutting board for raw meat products and ready-to-eat foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
• Avoid using utensils that have touched raw meat to cut up raw vegetables or other uncooked foods.
• Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood.
• Set your refrigerator to 40°F or colder and the freezer at 0°F;
• If cooking foods beforehand, such as turkey, ham, chicken and vegetable or pasta salads for an outdoor gathering, prepare them in plenty of time to thoroughly chill in the refrigerator.
• Divide large amounts of food into small containers for fast chilling and easier use.
• After estimating the amount of food that needs to be kept cold, pack an insulated cooler with sufficient ice or gel packs to keep the food at 40°F and store the food in a cooler except when it is being served;
• Organize cooler contents, packing beverages in one cooler and foods in another so as the beverage cooler is opened and reopened, foods won’t be exposed to warm outdoor air temperatures.
• Chill any leftovers promptly, discarding any food left out more than two hours.
• Use a food thermometer; and
• Cook foods according to recommended temperatures — hamburgers to 160 degrees and poultry to 165 degrees. Reheat all pre-cooked meats to 165 degrees.ř