Now that we are in June, those summer BBQs are just around the corner! With long hours spent at the beach, playing outdoors etc., summer food safety can be a serious issue. Have you ever been at an outdoor get together and wondered whether that onion dip that was served pre-lunch is still alright to nibble on for an afternoon snack? How long is too long for food to be without refrigeration? Well, we have some answers for you.
How long is too long?
Some food like chips and dry goods are able to stay out of refrigeration for hours without worry. However, the following items cannot say out of the cooler for more than 4 hours. This is any temperature between 41º F – 135ºF. If not followed, harmful and dangerous bacteria can develop in this short time. These foods are:
meat, poultry and seafood (cooked and uncooked!)
garlic-in oil mixtures (dips!)
cooked rice or potatoes (potato salad!)
If a cooler is packed, remember to keep the cooler full with ice to keep the food at a safe temperature. Store the cooler in the shade, and avoid opening it for unnecessary reasons. You can bring your own thermometer to make sure the cooler stays below 41ºF.
Also, remember to avoid contamination of uncooked meat with food that will not be cooked. Salmonella Enteritidis is a common bacteria found on uncooked chicken. Although the chicken will be cooked, and when reaching 165ºF, the bacteria will be eliminated on the chicken, other food will not be able to reach that temperature.
Cross-Contamination is a big problem at outdoor functions as sometimes plates, cutting boards, utensils, etc. are limited. Raw meat may be accidentally transferred to the same plate or someone may use the same fork as the salad. This bacteria will then be transferred to ready-to-serve items that will not be heated up to kill the bacteria.
So remember, food safety is a serious threat. Be smart!
Written by: Andrea Zamucen. Andrea Zamucen just recently finished her Didactic Program in Dietetics from Cal State University, Long Beach. Currently, Andrea is finishing her Masters in Public Health from University California, Berkeley. Andrea is a firm believer that proper nutrition is instrumental in good health.