Food Safety for Consumers

Each year an estimated 48 million cases of foodborne illness occur in the U.S.—the equivalent of one in six Americans. The resources on this page can help to keep you and your family safer from food poisoning.

SAFE SUMMER CELEBRATIONS

During warm weather, it is especially important to take extra precautions and practice safe food handling when preparing perishable foods such as meat, poultry, seafood and egg products. The warmer weather conditions may be ideal for outdoor picnics and barbecues, but they also provide a perfect environment for bacteria and other pathogens in food to multiply rapidly and cause foodborne illness. Here are steps to protect yourself and your family from foodborne illness this summer.

Seven Steps to Safe Food in the Summer

  1. Wash, Wash, Wash Your Hands. Always wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.  Sing Row, Row, Row Your Boat twice to get a sense of how long you should wash.
  2. Marinating Mandate. Always marinate food in the refrigerator. Don’t use sauce that was used to marinate raw meat or poultry on cooked food. Reserve a portion of the unused marinade to use as a sauce.
  3. Hot, Hot, Hot. When grilling foods, preheat the coals on your grill for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the coals are lightly coated with ash.
  4. Temperature Gauge. Use a food thermometer to ensure that food reaches a safe internal temperature.
  5. Where’s the Beef? Chicken and Fish? Hamburgers should be cooked to 160 ºF, while large cuts of beef such as roasts and steaks may be cooked to 145 ºF for medium rare or to 160 ºF for medium.  Poultry must reach a temperature of 165 °F. Fish should be opaque and flake easily.
  6. Stay Away from that Same Old Plate. When taking foods off the grill, do not put cooked food items back on the same plate that held raw food, unless it has been washed with hot water and soap first. And in hot weather (above 90°F) foods should never sit out for more than one hour before going in the refrigerator.
  7. Icebox Etiquette. A full cooler will maintain its cold temperatures longer than one that is partially filled so it is important to pack plenty of extra ice or freezer packs to ensure a constant cold temperature. Keep the cooler out of the direct sun. Keep drinks in a separate cooler from foods. The beverage cooler will be opened frequently while the food cooler stays cold.

OTHER SUMMERTIME FOOD SAFETY RESOURCES

On the Road Again...Traveling and Picnics

Grill Master

Food Safety on the Move

MORE FOOD SAFETY RESOURCES
Safe Food Handling
Cooking for Groups
Safe Home Food Preservation from UVM Extension 
Wash Hands and Surfaces Often
Food Allergies
Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures
Emergency Preparedness—Keeping Food Safe in an Emergency
Food Safety Basics from the US Department of Agriculture
Foodborne Illnesses
Vermont Foodborne Illness Information
FDA Food Facts for Consumers
Foodsafety.gov
Recall Information from the Food & Drug Administration
Recall Information from the USDA