Robin G is the winner!
1) Put perishable foods (i.e. hot dogs, cut fruits and salads) in individual containers on the bottom of the cooler with ice packs on the top: This method provides the best insulation for foods that need to remain cool and helps prevent cross contamination. Transport uncooked meats in a separate cooler from ready-to-eat foods
2) Put cold drinks (i.e. sodas, juices, etc.) in a separate cooler: This method avoids having the cooler containing perishable foods being constantly opened and closed.
3) Carry the cooler in the passenger area of the car: Keeping the cooler in the passenger area instead of in the trunk allows the air conditioning to help keep the contents cool.
4) Avoid taking dishes to a picnic that contain uncooked or unpasteurized eggs, such as homemade salad dressings or mayonnaise: Use pasteurized eggs or egg products to make these items. Food items containing properly prepared homemade or store-bought mayonnaise need to be kept cold until just before serving.
5) Wash produce such as melons prior to serving: Bacteria can be present on the exterior of melons and can be carried into the edible section when cutting it.
6) Do not prepare food more than one day before your picnic unless it is to be frozen: Cooking foods in advance allows for more opportunities for bacteria to grow. Be sure to reheat pre-cooked foods to at least 165°F before serving.
7) Remember the one-hour rule: Do not consume any perishable foods that have been sitting out beyond one hour on days where the temperature is over 90°F. On cooler days (under 90°F), perishable foods should be returned to the cooler or discarded if not eaten within two hours.
8) Throw out leftovers: Since most picnic leftovers have been sitting out for more than 1 – 2 hours and have had many people handling them, throw them out. The more time that food has been sitting at unsafe temperatures, the more likely harmful bacteria has grown.
9) Wash hands before eating or handling food: Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before eating or handling food. If you’re eating where there’s no source of clean water, bring soap, water and paper towels or have disposable wipes or hand sanitizer available.
1. Start with a Clean Kitchen:
According to a germ study by NSF International, the kitchen sponge and kitchen sink were the germiest places in the home – items that are typically used in multiple stages of the cooking and cleaning process. Avoid cross-contamination by ensuring these items are clean by:
a. Placing wet sponges in the microwave for two minutes once per day and replacing them often – every two weeks or more as needed. A better option for kitchen cleaning are dishcloths, towels and rags. These items can be sanitized by washing on the clothes washer’s hot water cycle with bleach. Replace every 1-2 days.
b. Washing and disinfecting the sides and bottom of the sink 1-2 times per week with a disinfecting cleaner. Sanitize kitchen drains and disposals monthly by pouring a solution of one teaspoon household bleach in one quart of water down the drain. Wash kitchen sink strainers in the dishwasher weekly.
2. Defrost Foods Safely: Don’t attempt to defrost foods quickly by leaving them sit overnight on a kitchen counter. Use one of the following methods:
a. Option I – Place a covered food in a shallow pan on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator.
b. Option II – Defrost the food item in the microwave, but keep in mind that you must finish cooking the food immediately thereafter, as some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook during the microwave defrosting process.
c. Option III – If there is not enough time to thaw frozen foods, it is safe to cook foods from the frozen state. However, the cooking will take approximately 50% longer than the recommended time for fully thawed or fresh meat and poultry.
3. Practice Proper Marinating: If marinating food, marinate in a refrigerator overnight and dispose of any leftover marinade that has been in contact with raw meat. While acids in marinades can help tenderize meat, too much vinegar or hot sauce can cause meat to be more stringy and tough.
4. Keep Hot Foods Hot and Cold Foods Cold: Hot foods need to be kept at temperatures above 140 F and cold foods less than 40 F. Between these two temperatures, bacteria can multiply very rapidly and reach dangerous levels in as little as two hours.
5. Don’t cook with your eyes; Cook with a thermometer: In order to ensure food has reached a safe internal temperature, always use a certified food thermometer. Any leftovers should be put away within two hours (one hour if the temperature is over 90° F).
6. Avoid Cross Contamination. Since bacteria can easily spread from one food to the next via dripping juices, hands, or utensils, think ahead to avoid cross contamination. Don’t use the same utensils and plates for raw and cooked foods, and always remember to wash your hands before preparing and consuming food.
Food safety tips courtesy of NSF International. NSF International is an independent, not-for-profit public health organization that certifies products and writes standards for food, water and consumer goods.
Includes NSF-certified icepack, meat thermometer, tupperware and apron.
Mandatory Entry: Tell me what your family enjoys most when picnicking or barbequing.
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Contest is open to US residents. Closes at Midnight EST on July 25th 2011. One main entry per household. Thank you to the sponsor for supplying the products for review and giveaway.