Stay healthy with summer food safety precautions

OSCEOLA COUNTY — The time has come once again to break out of the house and enjoy the sun. This is the time of year for grilling.

While being able to cook outdoors is more enjoyable, there are extra precautions individuals must take to protect family and friends. In order to lower the chances of putting others at risk for food-borne illnesses, please keep the following in mind:

  • Clean — The Central Kitchen, a publication of Central Michigan District Health Department, states that "properly washing hands and the exposed portion of the arms is the first line of defense in the fight against disease causing microorganisms." It is also very important to wash cutting boards, utensils and food prep areas. This needs to be done before preparing food and anytime you switch the type of food. Also remember to clean the grill surface even when using foil to prevent foreign objects from getting into the food. Remember to properly wash hands. Run them under warm water, then lather with anti-bacterial soap for 20 seconds or long enough to sing the alphabet song. Then rinse and towel dry (paper towels recommended). The proper way to clean food prep areas, cutting boards, and utensils is to wash with hot soapy water then rinse.
  • Grill — When marinating, place the food in the refrigerator until you are ready to place on the grill. Do not reuse marinade that has been used on raw meats. Make sure that you place food on a hot grill right away, especially if partially cooking meat inside first. It is important to check food with a meat thermometer to make sure the food is cooked thoroughly. Poultry should be cooked to a minimum temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, red meats cooked to 155 degrees Fahrenheit, and pork needs to reach a minimum temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Once meat is cooked, never place it back on a platter or use utensils that were used with raw meat.
  • Serve — Hot foods need to be kept above 140 degrees Fahrenheit and cold foods need to be kept at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Here are a few ideas to keep hot foods safe: they can be wrapped with tin foil and placed in an insulated container or move them away from the direct flame on the grill. Cold foods can be placed in a cooler that is filled with ice or food placed in a shallow container can be placed directly on ice.
  • Chill — Hot or cold foods should not sit out any longer than two hours at room temperature. If this happens or you are unsure, just toss it to be on the safe side. It is best to take care of food by placing it in refrigerator as soon as possible. Keep food out of the danger zone that is between 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which is when bacteria can thrive.

So just remember clean, grill, serve, and chill to help protect family, friends, and yourself while cooking outside this summer. To learn more about food safety visit and click the food safety link. You can also visit our website and look under environmental health.