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Memorial Day Weekend - How Long Is It Really Safe to Keep Foods?

Posted at 4:25 PM, May 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-26 08:36:45-04

Memorial Day weekend is here and that means BBQ’s, picnics and plenty of delicious food. And it’s important to follow simple safety rules to keep your food fresh and avoid food poisoning.

I love grilling - it’s one of the oldest methods of cooking and an American favorite.  But before you fire up the BBQ, I want to talk about food safety because you don’t want to join the estimated 48 million people who’ll get sick from foodborne illness this year. I was curious as to what our social media friends were making this holiday weekend and how they kept their food safe. Kathy Cook in Westland responded to my Facebook post and said, “I’m making steaks and keeping them safe in the air-conditioned house.”   

Well, Kathy, keeping the steaks indoors is helpful as bacteria does grow faster in warm temperatures. But there are other steps we all can take when it comes to meat.  Start off by washing your hands as often as you can - especially before and after handling raw meat and seafood.  Make sure to keep your raw meat away from other food and keep it cold in the fridge or below 40 degrees in an insulated cooler. And be sure to use a thermometer to make sure your food is cooked to a safe internal temperature as that kills harmful bacteria.  

Let’s check out another Facebook post: Norah Fowler said, “I'm planning to make homemade potato salad. I make sure to keep it refrigerated and serve it on ice to keep it cold. This helps keep the mayo from spoiling. What’s the deal with mayo, is it the cause of food-borne illness?"

First of all, I like Norah’s post as she made some good points. She keeps her salad cold and serves it on ice. I would also suggest serving cold food in small portions at a time. But, getting back to your question - mayonnaise does not cause food poisoning – bacteria does.  And bacteria loves protein when the temperatures are between 40 and 140 degrees.  And what do we often mix mayo with when making a salad? Eggs, chicken and tuna.  So be sure to keep your family safe by keeping cold foods cold, hot foods hot and pack up leftovers as soon as you can. Food should not sit out for more than two hours and only for one hour if it’s above 90 degrees. And believe it or not, the weather is predicted to be that hot this long weekend.