A new national campaign developed by the Ad Council and several federal agencies has some great advice for families who area headed outdoors this summer. Food Safe Families aims to raise awareness about the risks of food borne illness and to help consumers, especially parents, to take specific actions to reduce the risks to themselves and their children.
In the US, approximately 1 in 6 Americans suffer a food-related illness, sometimes called food poisoning, every year. Food-related illnesses tend to increase during the summer months for several reasons. Family vacations and hot weather are both contributing factors.
More families eat outdoors - everywhere from backyard picnics and national park campgrounds to hiking trails and motorboats. Special effort is also necessary to keep cold foods cold in summer weather. Unfortunately, many Americans do not take enough personal responsibility for keeping food safe to eat after they buy it at a supermarket or grocery store.
Every one of us can take simple steps to be food safe every day. Preventing food borne illness is a farm-to-table process. It begins where food is produced and continues through everywhere it is processed and marketed. Consumers also play a critical role in food safety by properly handling, preparing, and storing food everywhere they eat.
Food Safe Families recommends four basic steps to follow anytime, anywhere you shop, cook, or eat:
- CLEAN: It’s always important to clean kitchen surfaces, dishes, and utensils while preparing food. One of the most basic, easiest ways to prevent illness is to wash hands thoroughly before, during, and after cooking.
- SEPARATE: Cross contamination can occur from bacteria on raw foods to ready-to-eat items. Separate raw meat, poultry, and fish from other foods - in grocery bags, the refrigerator, and camping coolers.
- COOK: A small digital thermometer is essential for safely cooking inside and outdoors, especially when grilling meat and poultry. A $10 to $15 investment in a kitchen thermometer can prevent expensive illnesses.
- CHILL: Special attention is necessary to keep foods cold in summer’s heat. All perishable items must be kept in a fridge or cooler until time to cook or eat. Cooked foods should be kept out no longer than 2 hours.