Summer Outdoor Party Food Safety

From cookouts to picnics, the summertime brings tons of fun… but not if you get food-poisoning.

Food poisoning, also known as contracting a food-borne illness, occurs when a food has unsafe pathogenic levels.

Foods can become unsafe if they’re left in the temperature danger zone for too long.

The temperature danger zone is between 40°F and 140°F. It is within this range that bacteria grows rapidly, making your food unsafe.

However, not to fear, by following my top 4 Summer Outdoor Party Food Safety tips, you’ll be sure you host a safe and fun summer party.


Keep Hot Foods Hot

Hot dishes that you want to serve should be kept hot in order to remain safe to eat.

This means holding hot foods at temperatures above 140°F.

And no, letting your dish sit in the sun does not mean it’s staying hot. It means it’s becoming a breeding ground for pathogenic bacteria.

To keep served hot dishes safe you can:

Serve these foods in insulated dishes (to help hold their hot temperatures)

Be sure it doesn’t sit out for longer than 2 hours (1 hour if the temperatures are above 90°F). If it does, it should be thrown out.


Keep Cold Foods Cold

Foods being served cold need to stay cold to prevent food-borne illness.

This means you should store your cold dishes in the fridge (at 40°F) until ready to be served.

To keep served cold dishes safe you can:

Serve it in a dish that is sitting on top of ice
(and refill the ice as necessary)

Be sure it doesn’t sit out for longer than 2 hours (1 hour if the temperatures are above 90°F).
If it does, it should be thrown out.

Hacks to keep food cold:

– Fill a shower cap with ice and secure it around your large serving bowl.

– If you’re traveling with coolers, use frozen plastic water bottles to help keep food at safe temperatures. You’ll have your food and refreshments all in one!

Especially risk dishes to keep out in the danger zone are pasta salads, potato salads, egg salad, and any other starchy or protein-packed foods.


Practice Safe Grilling Techniques

– Set aside some marinade for a sauce before adding to raw meat.
– Marinate foods in the fridge (never at room temperature)
– Cook foods up to safe temperatures. You will need a meat thermometer to check this as the color of meat is not a valid indicator.
– Use a different platter from the one that you bought the raw meat out on, to serve the cooked meat on.


Store Leftovers Properly

When people are done eating and the party starts to settle down, you may find that you have a lot of food leftover.

Properly storing your leftover food is important to maintaining food safety.

If you have a lot of leftovers, separate them out into separate containers and store them in the fridge. Dividing the dish into smaller containers will allow the dish to cool more quickly and safely.

Remember if something has been left out for over 2 hours at room temp, throw it out!


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