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Safe Summer Snacking.

Dining al fresco is one of the joys of summer...cookouts, picnics and pool parties. But as the temperature rises, so does your chance of getting sick from contaminated food. Bacteria love warmer conditions, and people are often cooking outdoors, away from sinks, refrigerators and kitchen thermometers.

To avoid the unpleasant prospect of food poisoning this summer, follow a few smart tips for proper food handling.

Properly marinate.
Food should always marinate in the refrigerator. If you plan to use marinade as a sauce for cooked food, save some prior to adding in raw meat. If the marinade is used on the raw meat, as long as it is boiled to kill any bacteria, it can still be used.

Transport food safely.
When bringing food to a pitch-in or party, keep it cold to prevent bacterial growth. Pack a cooler with ice or ice packs to keep the food at 40 °F or below. It will also be easier to transport and can prevent a spill in the car.

Chill cold food.
Keep meat in the refrigerator until you’re ready to grill it. If you’re using a cooler, keep it in the shade and don’t open the lid too much. Pack perishables in one cooler and drinks in another for safety.

Keep it clean.
Never use the same platter and utensils for both raw and cooked meats. This is a simple but huge precautionary step in keeping food-borne illnesses away from you and your guests. Clean everything after it has been used with raw meats.

Cook thoroughly.
To kill harmful bacteria, cook food to a safe minimum internal temperature. Use a food thermometer to ensure the temperature is perfect for your guests. Safe minimum temperatures are as follows: Whole poultry: 165 °F; Poultry breasts: 165 °F; Ground poultry: 165 °F; Ground meats: 160 °F; Beef, pork, lamb, and veal (steaks, roasts and chops): 145 °F and allow to rest at least 3 minutes.

Keep hot food hot.
After grilling meat, keep it hot until served — at 140 °F or warmer. Set your cooked meats to the side of the grill rack, not directly over the coals to prevent them from overcooking. If you’re at home or a friend’s house, keep the cooked meat in a 200 °F oven or a slow cooker set on warm.

In hot weather (above 90 °F), food should never sit out for more than an hour. Following these steps will reduce the risk of food-borne illness this summer and keep everyone happy and healthy.

Dr. Stuart H. Coleman, MD
Gastroenterology of Southern Indiana

Dr. Coleman began his medical practice in New Albany in 1984 after many years of training. He attended the University of Kentucky for his pre-medical studies and the University of Louisville Medical School. This education was followed by a year of internship and an additional two years of specialty training in Internal Medicine, all in Portsmouth, Virginia with the U.S. Navy. He then received two additional years of training in Gastroenterology at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. Dr. Coleman is board certified in both Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology.

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