Friday, July 26, 2019

Grilling on the beach this summer? Keep food safety in mind

Today’s guest blog post is by Janice López-Muñoz, MSIH, a public affairs specialist with the Department of Food Safety Education at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

The summer months are the perfect excuse to spend time at the beach, but beach grilling fun could be spoiled with bacteria that could make you sick. There are always challenges when cooking outdoors, but a little bit of preparation can have you enjoying some well-deserved beach time with the family.

Photo by Letizia Barbi via Flickr Creative Commons
Before firing up the beach grill

• Make sure local ordinances allow grilling activities. If yes, only pack the amount of food you will consume to avoid leftovers.

• Season your food at home before packing it for the trip. Remember to wash your hands before handling raw items and in between spice containers when seasoning.

• Pack perishable foods directly from the refrigerator or freezer into the cooler. Keep raw meat and poultry tightly wrapped and store them at the bottom to keep any juices away from cooked or ready-to-eat foods. Pack drinks in a separate cooler.

• A full cooler will keep its cold temperatures longer. If you still have space in your cooler, pack it with more ice.

• Don’t forget to bring moist towelettes and your food thermometer!

Keeping food safe ashore

• At the beach, partially bury your portable cooler in the sand, cover it with blankets or towels, and shade it under a tree or with a beach umbrella.

• Don’t open your cooler unless necessary to keep perishable foods colder for a longer time.

• Don't leave any perishables sitting out for more than two hours, or one hour when the temperature is above 90 degrees.

• Set up and clean your grill before bringing the food out. Clean your hands before placing any foods on the grill.

Beach grill time

Make sure your grilled items are safe to eat by using a food thermometer and checking to see if they reached the right minimum internal temperatures:

• Steaks, roasts and chops: 145 degrees with a three-minute rest

• Fish: 145 degrees

• Ground meat or burgers: 160 degrees

• Poultry, whole or ground: 165 degrees

Serve food using clean plates and utensils. Clean your hands before starting to eat!

If you have a food safety question for your summer activities, call 1-888-674-6854 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday. You can also email or chat via Ask Karen. 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Feeling hot, hot, hot from heat waves

By rzelich, courtesy iStockphoto
Time to pour a big glass of ice water and cozy up inside near the air conditioner, because it is seriously hot out there. A big chunk of the U.S. is broiling in a nasty combo of heat and humidity this week. Cities such as Chicago and Washington, D.C., are expected to reach 100 degrees or more.

Because of climate change, heat waves are becoming worse and happening more often. And unfortunately, there are more to come, with back-to-back heat waves expected this season. Heat waves are even appearing in places you don’t expect. In Alaska, temperatures reached the 90 degree mark recently.

It’s not just the U.S. that’s suffering. Last month, Europe experienced a record-breaking heat wave. It was the hottest June on record for the continent, with France and Spain reaching triple digits. Dozens of people died in India this summer when the country experienced one of its longest heat waves, with temperatures over 120 degrees.

Follow these tips to stay safe during heat waves:

  • Stay inside in an air-conditioned area. If you don’t have AC at home, go to a mall, library or community center. This is a great time to catch up on Netflix, or read that book you’ve had sitting next to your bed for weeks.
  • Drink plenty of water! Don’t wait until you’re overheated to drink. Stay away from soda, caffeinated drinks and alcohol, as they can make you dehydrated. 
  • Wear light-colored, loose, breathable fabrics.
  • If you’re in the heat and have symptoms such as dizziness, nausea or excessive sweating, call your doctor or head to the emergency room immediately.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Hurricane season is here. Are you ready?

By NASA Goddard Space Flight Center,
courtesy of Flickr
Hurricane season has arrived in the U.S. In fact, one may form in the Gulf of Mexico this week. As you’re checking your TV, radio and phone for weather updates, remember to look out for hurricane warnings.

A hurricane warning is a signal that a hurricane has already started and could affect your local area. Hurricanes are predictable, but that doesn’t mean you should wait until they’re coming to prepare.
Getting ready for a storm takes a lot of planning and organization. It can take some time, and it might be stressful. You’ll need important supplies, such as a flashlight, batteries, bottled water, food and a first-aid kit.

And don’t forget to stock your car with supplies too! It’s important to have a car emergency kit in case you need to evacuate. This can include things such as an emergency kit, booster cables and printed maps. If you need to stay home, make sure you take steps to protect your space. Covering windows and tying up outdoor furniture are two things you can do to protect your home.

Talk to your family about the ways you can prepare for a hurricane. You can sit down and map out evacuation routes to your nearest shelter and contact them to make sure they’ll take your pets. After a hurricane, be aware of hazards like standing water in roads, wet electrical devices, damaged buildings and fallen power lines.

Stay safe and informed this hurricane season!

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Heading to a concert, parade or picnic this summer? Stay safe in the crowd with these tips

By Chad Cooper, courtesy of Flickr
Summer is a fun time to be outside, especially with big events like music festivals, beach weekends and Fourth of July celebrations. But the large crowds can lead to dangerous situations.  It’s important to be prepared for anything, so here are a few things to keep in mind for all of your favorite summer celebrations.

• Before you go: Put on the right clothes. Wear a hat and light-colored clothes if it’s hot. Avoid open-toed shoes that can cause tripping. Charge your phone to 100% before you go. Just in case it dies, memorize important numbers. Bring water so you don’t get dehydrated and hand sanitizer to avoid germs.

• When you get there: Make sure you know where all the exits and first-aid stations are. Decide on a place to meet your friends or family in case you get separated.

• During the event: Keep an eye out for bathrooms. Limit your alcohol and caffeine intake. These drinks tend to dehydrate you.

• In case of emergency: Listen to instructions from officials. Try to stay near the edge of the crowd and move sideways through it when you need to leave. Stay calm! You know how to get through this.

For more tips, check out our crowd safety fact sheet. Enjoy your event!