Ask Dr. Nandi: Memorial Day food safety tips

Posted at 5:54 PM, May 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-26 17:54:22-04

It may not be super hot and sunny this Memorial Day weekend, but that won’t stop food borne illnesses from thriving. Many love to gather to enjoy outdoor meals, BBQ’s and picnics together – and these provide perfect opportunities for bacteria to grow. 

There are many existing disease-causing microbes or germs that can contaminate food like raw meat, fish, eggs, salads and produce.  

What’s important to know is this: bacteria grows faster in temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.  After roughly 20 minutes, bacteria can double their numbers in perishable food that’s been sitting out. 

Roughly 1 in 6 people suffer from food borne illnesses every year so here’s are my prescriptions:

Partha’s RX:

  1. Be sure to keep food at the same temperature you serve it at.  In other words, keep cold foods cold, and warm foods warm.
  2. Don’t let your foods sit out for more than 2 hours, otherwise throw it out.  Put leftovers on ice or in the fridge as soon as you can.
  3. Always wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds especially before and after cooking or handling raw meat.
  4. Cook meats to their specific safe temperatures using a stem thermometer.  Chicken should reach 165°F, ground beef 158°F; and pork 150°F when measured internally.

You should always wash fruits and vegetables under cool running water. A produce brush is great for getting rid of dirt. 

You don’t want to rinse raw meat because you can indirectly spread bacteria around your sink area. After handling food, it’s a great idea to wash everything that food comes into contact with like cutting boards, dishes and countertops.