XENIA — The outdoor season is officially underway and Greene County Public Health officials are reminding residents about safe food handling during picnic and grilling season.
“It is important to prepare and transport food safely to prevent foodborne illnesses, such as Salmonella, Norovirus, E. coli, etc. With a little bit of planning, summer parties and family gatherings can be fun and safe for all,” GCPH officials said in a press release.
GPCH have released the following safety tips:
It is very important to thoroughly cook raw animal foods to the proper temperatures to kill bacteria and to prevent foodborne illnesses. Raw fish and whole muscle meats (steak, ribs, roasts) must be cooked to a minimum temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. According to the Ohio Food Code, raw hamburger (ground meats) must be cooked to a minimum of 155 degrees, and raw chicken must be cooked to a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bacteria begin to multiply between 41 degrees Fahrenheit and 135 degrees Fahrenheit, so it is important to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold right up to the moment of cooking and/or serving. Cold food must be kept cold at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Only place small portions of food out at a time and replenish as needed. Hot foods must be maintained at 135 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent bacterial growth. Once any type of melons or tomatoes are sliced, these must be cooled down and held at 41 degrees Fahrenheit and never held at room temperature for more than 4 hours. Any food held out of temperature for more than 4 hours must be discarded to prevent a potential foodborne illness. It is important to use a clean and calibrated food thermometer to check the internal temperatures of the food you are cooking, holding, and serving.
According to the Partnership for Food Safety Education, 65 percent of consumers don’t wash hands before starting meal preparation. Don’t be a statistic this season. Keep hands clean by using soap and warm water, and scrubbing them for a minimum of 20 seconds. Rinse well and dry with a disposable towel. Use soapy water and a clean paper towel for tables and counters. Be sure to rinse and scrub fruits and vegetables under running water prior to cutting, slicing or other preparation.
Use separate cutting boards, one for each raw protein (fish, ground meat, chicken) and a different one for fresh, washed produce. Keep utensils separate to keep germs that are naturally occurring on raw proteins from getting onto the fresh, washed produce. Always place cooked meat onto a clean plate. Make sure cooked meat does not come into contact with raw meat juices.
For more information, call Environmental Health Services at Greene County Public Health at 937-374-5607.