Food Safety: Preppin’ the Foods Safely in Summer

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Summer! Oh, how we long for this season when many of us eagerly get away from school and work. It is probably the most exciting time of the year when picnics, camping, trips and other outdoor adventures draw family and friends closer together. No matter what activities we choose to take part in, food is the common denominator that runs through all our recreational and relaxation activities. It is definitely a season for various delectable foods that spice up the moment. 

To save the vacation from the disaster of people getting sick due to improper food handling, food safety precautions are strongly advised. Foodborne illnesses and food contamination continue to be significant public health concerns. This incidence increases in summer due to a variety of factors including warmer temperatures, a greater risk of food poisoning due to harmful bacteria that grow quickly in this condition. It is important to stay healthy and safe during this season b following basic food safety recommendations. 

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Food and water-borne diseases are caused by any infectious organisms like bacteria, viruses and parasites and non-infectious agents like chemical, animal and plant toxins.  Common causes of food and water borne diseases are unsafe sources of drinking water, improper disposal of human waste, unhygienic practices like spitting anywhere, blowing or picking the nose, unsafe food handling and preparation practices like, for example street vended foods. 

Plan ahead and pack safely

When going out for a vacation, think of foods to bring in advance and prepare them properly whether it is perishable or not. Place the perishable foods in a cooler with plenty of ice or frozen gel packs. Open and close the lid quickly, The food cooler should not be opened frequently to maintain its cold temperature. 

Regular Handwashing

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Regular handwashing, particularly before and after meals, is the most basic yet the best way to remove dirt, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others. It is quick, simple, and can keep the bad microbes away. Handwashing is always good for everyone, except the germs. Doing the proper cleaning techniques in outdoor activities as done at home can prevent cross-contamination and food poisoning. Always use clean white water and soap in washing all utensils before and after use.

Right Knowledge on Storage

Foods get spoiled faster in the summer. make sure not to eat anything that smells foul or tastes awful. It is not advisable to keep food at room temperature for more than one hour in hot weather. Pathogenic micro-organisms feast on the food that is left unattended. Keep perishable foods in the refrigerator at home or in a cooler filled with ice packs. Avoid direct sunlight to the cooler and frequent opening. 

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Sufficient Cooking is a Must

Heat can kill; microscopic bacteria. Make sure that raw meat, poultry, and seafood are cooked thoroughly to eliminate harmful bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria. Cook the food until it is steaming hot all the way through, especially leftovers and ready-to-eat foods such as hotdog. When color and texture do not guarantee that the food is cooked well, some use a food thermometer to make sure it is done. Bacterial growth increases as food cools after cooking so it is advisable to prevent it from cooling by using a heat source such as warming tray. 

When in doubt, throw it out

Discard any food if you are not sure that it has been prepared, served or stored safely. As mentioned, food shouldn’t be left unattended at room temperature for more than an hour especially during the summer. This an cause bacterial growth or toxins that cannot be destroyed merely by cooking. For safety assurance, DO NOT taste any food that you are unsure about–just throw it out! It may look and smell fine but it is unsafe to eat. Leftover food in a cooler is safe only if there are still packs of ice in it. If not, dispose of any leftover food. If leftovers are stored in fridge, make sure to consume them in three days. Otherwise, freeze them. 

Food poisoning is a widespread health problem that is serious and potentially life-threatening for young children, pregnant women and their fetuses, elderly adults, and people with weakened immune systems.

In all seasons especially the summer, protect your family and loved ones by applying the above mentioned basic rules of safe food preparation to significantly reduce the risk of foodborne diseases. 

Vance Madrid

Freelance writer, lifestyle blogger, social media manager, events coordinator, scriptwriter, film buff, wanderlust and certified foodie.