Dr Charles Platkin, the founder of DietDetective.com, is a nutrition and public health specialist in the US whose mission is advocating for safe and healthy eating.
His slogan ‘Think Before You Eat’ sums up his personal mantra and acts as the basis of his food safety advice.
Platkin’s recently tackled some of the everyday food safety issues that arise during the warmer months in his Summer Food Safety Tips article. In the post, which was published by multiple news outlets around the world, Platkin explains that one in six Americans is affected by food poisoning annually - in Australia, it’s more like one in four - which is just one of the reasons why food safety is so important.
Battling the Heat and Keeping Your Food Safe
Keeping cold foods cold and hot foods hot are the first two topics discussed. When dining outdoors or cooking a BBQ it’s still important to keep food at the correct temperature. Food that’s left outside in the heat can quickly reach the ‘Danger Zone’ – between 5 and 60 degrees Celsius. When food is left at this temperature bacterial growth speeds up and can quickly reach dangerous levels.
Cool packs, insulated food storage bags or cooler chests are some of the things you can use to help keep food cold. Also, investing in a cooking thermometer is a great way to monitor temperatures so you know if it’s safe to eat.
Keeping Clean when Handling Food is a Must
Making sure your hands, all equipment and all surfaces are clean are other ways to reduce the risk of harmful bacteria contaminating your food and making you sick. This also goes for cross-contamination – when handling or preparing food be sure to thoroughly wash chopping boards and utensils that come into contact with raw meats or poultry before using them again.
If you’re using a public BBQ, you can help keep your food clean by cooking on aluminum foil. Just place the foil on the top of the grill, spray it with cooking oil and cook your food on top.
If in Doubt - Throw it Out
Also, while enjoying a meal outside - be sure that high-risk foods aren’t given the chance to become contaminated. High-risk foods that remain in the Danger-Zone are subject to the 2 – 4 Hour Rule. This rule outlines the length of time food can still be safely consumed or re-chilled. Below are the three key rules:
- High-risk food that remains in the Danger-Zone for up to 2 hours can be consumed or re-chilled.
- High-risk food that remains in the Danger-Zone for between 2 and 4 hours can be consumed or discarded.
- High-risk food that remains in the Danger-Zone for more than 4 hours must be discarded.
For more everyday food safety tips - check out this useful page!