With summer fast approaching and graduation celebrations beginning this weekend, Clark County Combined Health District (CCCHD) Health officials want to remind everyone about safe food handling during picnic and grilling season. It is important to prepare and transport food safely to prevent foodborne illnesses, including Salmonella. With a little bit of planning, spring and summer holidays and gatherings can be fun and safe for all. Please keep the following three points in mind:

Temperature: Bacteria begin to multiply between 41 degrees Fahrenheit and 135 degrees Fahrenheit, so it is important to keep food either hot or cold right up to the moment of cooking and/or serving. Cold food should always be kept cold at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Also, only place small portions of food out and replenish as needed. For hot foods, 135 degrees Fahrenheit is the safe temperature to keep food hot. Do not let food sit out for more than two (2) hours at room temperature. All meat products have safe handling instructions on the label. Be sure to cook foods according to the safe handling instructions. It is important to use a clean and calibrated food thermometer to check the internal temperatures of the food you are cooking, holding, and serving.

Clean: According to the Partnership for Food Safety Education, 65% of consumers don’t wash hands before starting meal preparation. Don’t be a statistic this season. Keep hands clean by using soap and very warm water and scrubbing for 20 seconds. Rinse well and dry with a paper towel. Use hot soapy water and a clean paper towel on tables and counters, in addition rinse and scrub fruits and vegetables under running water.

Separate: Use two separate cutting boards...one for raw meats only and a different one for fresh, washed produce. Keep utensils separate to keep germs that are naturally occurring on raw meat from getting onto the fresh, washed produce. Always place cooked meat on a clean plate. Make sure cooked meat does not come into contact with raw meat juices.

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