Happy May 1st everyone! My favorite month of the year for so many reasons, but mostly because of all the outdoor activities this time of year brings. Picnics, barbeques and beach outings are going to become the weekend norm for most of us over the next few months. That’s why it’s a good time to review some helpful tips to keep foods fresh and prevent illness resulting from spoiled foods.
- Wash your fruits & veggies: I don’t care if that package says “3X washed,” I still wash my salad greens to be on the safe side. I wash all my fruits and vegetables under running water and if they are rough or porous like a cantaloupe, I use a scrub brush on the outer skin.
- Keep foods stored at the proper temperature: If you’re planning an outside event it’s best to avoid mayonnaise-based salads and be sure to keep cut fruit chilled. Stick to the rule of hot foods stay hot and cold foods stay cold.
- Be careful when using marinades: Marinades are really popular this time of year, especially when grilling, but it’s important to remember that once you’ve marinated raw meat or seafood in a marinade, you must throw it out. You can baste your meat with the marinade initially when you place it on the grill, but don’t use the marinade after the meat is done cooking or reuse it on vegetables that won’t be cooked to the same temperature.
- Avoid cross-contamination: Don’t use the same cutting board or utensils when preparing raw meats/seafood and fruits/vegetables. For example, if you’ve just used a spatula to put raw hamburgers on your grill, don’t use the same spatula to place slices of tomatoes on a serving plate unless it’s been first washed thoroughly with hot water and soap.
These are all common sense tips, but they’re always worth repeating. My motto is “when in doubt, throw out.” I’d rather be overly cautious when it comes to food safety than end up sick. Here’s to a healthy and happy outdoor season!