Don't let bad food preparation spoil Labor Day fun

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Celeste Lucero
  • 82nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron Public Health Flight
Labor Day is just around the corner and many people will be firing up the grills for barbecues and picnic gatherings.

Year after year, about 1-in-10 Americans has an illness caused by food, commonly known as food poisoning. Don't let bacteria spoil your festivities.

Here are some safety tips to keep those uninvited guests away:

· Always wash your hands with hot soapy water before handling food.
· Have coolers with enough ice or frozen gel packs to keep perishable foods like meat, poultry, fish, eggs and salads below 40 degrees Fahrenheit before cooking.
· Always keep the cooler in the shade with the lid closed.
· Use a separate cooler for drinks.
· Pack raw meats, such as poultry and fish at the bottom of the cooler to prevent them from dripping onto other foods and contaminating them.
· Never partially grill meat or poultry and finish cooking later.
· Cook food to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy any bacteria.
· Poultry should reach an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit, while beef and pork should reach at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
· Keep hot food hot at 140 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer and cold food cold at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.

In weather above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, perishable foods should not sit out for more than one hour and all other foods should not be out for more than two hours. As soon as you finish eating, put food back into the fridge or cooler. Discard anything left out for more than two hours and remember, "When in doubt, throw it out!"

If you have any doubts about the freshness or safety of a food product, it is better to be safe than sorry. For more information, call the public health office at 676-3052.