Have a Healthy Labor Day

Labor Day marks the official end of summer.  If you plan to have a cookout or picnic, take some simple steps to keep your friends and family safe from foodborne illness.

Wash your hands
Wash your hands often and keep food preparation and serving surfaces clean.  Pack moist towelettes or hand sanitzer if you think you picnic site might not have handwashing facilities.

Keep Hot Foods Hot
Raw meat and poultry may contain bacteria that cause illness.  Bacteria grows at temperatures between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F -- the "danger zone".  To keep foods safe to eat, hold them at temperatures outside the danger zone.  This means below 40F or above 140 degrees F.

Keep Cold Foods Cold
Store food in a cooler with plenty of ice or frozen gel packs.  Keep meat and poultry in a cooler until just before you are ready to start cooking.  Return leftovers to the cooler or store in the refrigerator or freezer within two hours after being cooked and only one hour when the temperature is above 90 degrees F.

Handle Leftovers Safely
The more time that food has been sitting at an unsafe temperature, the more likely harmful bacteria has grown.  Because most picnic leftovers have been sitting out for more than one hour and had many people handling them, the best thing to do is throw them out.  Cold foods kept in a cooler that still has ice may be safe.  If the ice is melted, throw out the food.  Cold water cannot keep foods cold enough to be safe.

For more information about food safety:
Grilling Food Safety at Home and Barbeque and Food Safety 

Many people do not realize that melons, such as watermelons and cantaloupe, can cause foodborne illness.  Wash melons thoroughly before cutting to remove bacteria.  Once melons are cut, refrigerate as soon as possible.

Try this  Melon Grape Salad that will be a healthy alternative to try this weekend!

Melon Grape Salad
8 servings

1 cup of cube cantaloupe melon
1 cup of cubed watermelon
2 cups of seedless green grapes
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 cup of honey
1 Tablespoon of Dijon mustard

1.  Wash melons and grapes.
2. Cut melons into bite-sized pieces.  Mix melons and grapes together in a serving bowl.
3.  Whisk together the lime juice, honey and Dijon mustard.  Toss with the fruit and serve immediately.


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© Eat Smart, Be Fit Maryland!Maira Gall