Now is a good time to refresh your memory
about safe food handling. It's also a great time to
teach your children about how to prepare, store, and
serve food safely.
Food poisoning bacteria thrive at temperatures
between 40° and 140°F. Foods left at normal room
temperature for two or more hours easily become
breeding grounds for food poisoning bacteria. In hot
weather, one hour is plenty of time for these
bacteria to multiply to dangerous levels.
While some food poisoning victims might have a bit of
stomach distress, others can become seriously ill or
even die. For example, a potentially fatal illness
called hemolytic uremic syndrome has been caused
by contaminated, undercooked ground beef. You
can’t tell by looking if the meat is contaminated, but
it will be safe to eat if you cook it to a temperature
Extra caution is required on a picnic or at the beach.
Even in a cooler, foods can reach the danger zone,
temperature-wise, more quickly than you expect.
Pack the more perishable foods at the bottom, where
they won’t so easily be exposed to warm air when
people open the cooler. Store the cooler in a shady
spot, not in the sun. Be sure that uncooked meats
and their juices are entirely separated from other
foods. And don’t forget your cooking thermometer if
you plan to grill at your picnic.
few general rules can help you prevent food
The U.S. Department of Agriculture web site offers
detailed information about food safety:
If you think someone has food poisoning, call the
Poison Center for advice at 1-800-222-1222.