Health & Nutrition
Due to a variety of factors, including warmer temperatures, foodborne illness increases in summer. Stay healthy and safe during warmer months by following these summer food safety tips.
When Bringing Food to a Picnic or Cookout
- Use an insulated cooler filled with ice or frozen gel packs. Frozen food can also be used as a cold source.
- Foods that need to be kept cold include:
- Raw meat, poultry, and seafood
- Deli/luncheon meats and sandwiches
- Summer salads (tuna, chicken, egg, pasta, or seafood)
- Cut up fruit and vegetables
- Perishable dairy products
- A full cooler will maintain its cold temperature longer than a partially filled one. When using a cooler, keep it out of the direct sun by placing it in the shade.
- Avoid opening the cooler repeatedly so that your food stays colder longer.
When Cooking on the Grill
- Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meat and ready-to-eat items like vegetables or bread.
- Keep perishable food cold until it is ready to cook.
- Use a food thermometer to make sure meat and poultry are cooked thoroughly to their safe minimum internal temperatures.
- Beef, Pork, Lamb, & Veal (steaks, roasts, and chops): 145°F with a 3 minute rest time
- Ground meats: 160°F
- Whole poultry, poultry breasts, & ground poultry: 165°F
- Always use a fresh, clean plate and tongs for serving cooked food. Never reuse items that touched raw meat or poultry to serve the food once it is cooked.
When Serving Food Outdoors
- Perishable food should not sit out for more than two hours. In hot weather (above 90°F), food should NEVER sit out for more than one hour.
- Serve cold food in small portions, and keep the rest in the cooler. After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, keep it hot until served (at 140°F or warmer).
- Keep hot food hot by setting it to the side of the grill rack, not directly over the coals where they could overcook.
Leftovers & Reheating
- Refrigerate any leftovers promptly in shallow containers. Discard any food left out more than 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature outside is above 90°F/ 32°C).
- When reheating fully cooked meats like hot dogs or hamburgers, grill them to 165°F (74°C) or until steaming hot.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019, May). Foodborne Germs and Illnesses. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/foodborne-germs.html.
Source: Terence Martin, Ph.D., Urban EFNEP Program Manager, and Tamara Warren, Ph.D., Urban Human Nutrition, Diet & Health Specialist, both from Alabama Cooperative Extension System at Alabama A&M University.