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Summer food safety tips

Food safety is a hot topic for those sweltering summer braais, cookouts and picnics. Follow these food safety tips to keep your family and friends free of foodborne disease.


Preparation is key

While preparing for your braai or picnic make sure you have the proper equipment. You want to have a few different coolers along with plenty of ice (block ice is best because it melts slower). Place serving utensils with each item and have plenty of plates and napkins available so your guests don’t use their hands (touching food can transmit bacteria). Bring clean wipes and make sure everyone washes their hands before they eat.

Prevent cross-contamination

When packing the cooler, wrap each food item securely and separately. You don’t want meat touching cheese or raw food coming in contact with cooked foods or produce. And when cooking, use separate plates and utensils for raw and cooked foods.

Keep cold food cold

One of the biggest culprits of foodborne bacteria is perishable food that becomes warm. Keep dishes containing mayonnaise, eggs, cheese, meats, or fish in the refrigerator or cold on ice until ready to serve. To keep food cold while serving, you can place bowls filled with the food in larger bowls that are filled with ice. Also, when transporting the food, keep it in the air-conditioned car instead of a hot boot.

Keep food covered

While you are eating, keep food that is out on the table covered. This will keep bugs or debris from contaminating it.

Wash all fruit and vegetables

Fruit and veggies that has not been properly washed can cause a foodborne illness. Wash all fruit and veggies; even those that have a peel or skin that you can remove. Before you pack washed away, be sure to pat it dry thoroughly. Moisture is a host for bacteria.

Cook food well done

To minimise foodborne illness from meats, cook them medium well to well done. To be extra safe, use a meat thermometer to check doneness.

Leave the leftovers

Discard any cold food that has been in the heat for more than two hours, even if doesn’t feel particularly warm. Additionally, hot foods that have been left out for two hours should also be tossed.

Top tips for food safety

    Plan party foods for the number of guests expected to minimise leftovers and food storage before, during and after the game.

    Chill salads well before transferring them to an ice chest or cooler. And, fill ice chests just before leaving home.

    Keep raw foods separate from cooked foods. If marinating steaks, chops or chicken, do so in a disposable re-sealable plastic bag.

    Shade ice chests and coolers; cover with a blanket if no shade is available.

    Planning to pick up a bucket of chicken or pizza on the way? Make that the last stop to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.

    Use a food thermometer to check cooked temperatures.

    Wait to remove salads and sides from ice chests and coolers until ready to eat.

    Shade the serving table, if possible.

    Use disposable paper products, tableware and food containers to minimise cleanup.

    Tuck in extra utensils, serving spoons and a roll of paper towels and trash bags.

    Make sure cooking appliances or equipment is shut down and cooling or otherwise stowed appropriately to reduce the risk of fire hazards.


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