Driving past Sand Bar State Park on a sunny Sunday afternoon, the smell of cooking burgers, chicken and hot dogs drifts across Route 2 from the many grills dotting the busy park.
“Sharing a meal outdoors with family and friends is a great way to enjoy a summer holiday,” said Elisabeth Wirsing, Food & Lodging program chief for the Vermont Department of Health. “And we want you to know how to prepare and serve food as safely as you would in your own kitchen.”
It’s easy enough if you plan ahead and keep the basics in mind: Wash hands and utensils regularly, don’t cross-contaminate, cook to proper temperature, cool foods promptly and when in doubt, throw it out.
When carrying food to another location, keep it cold to minimize bacterial growth. Use an insulated cooler with enough ice or ice packs to keep the food at 40 °F or below. Pack food right from the refrigerator into the cooler immediately before leaving home. Discard perishable food left out more than two hours (one hour if the outside temperature is above 90° F).
If you're eating away from home, find out if there’s a source of clean water. If not, bring water for preparation and cleaning, or pack clean cloths, and moist wipes or towelettes for cleaning surfaces and hands.
If you’re feeling ill, don’t handle or prepare food for other people.
Be sure there are plenty of clean utensils and plates. To prevent foodborne illness, don't use the same plates and utensils for raw and cooked meat and poultry. Harmful bacteria present in raw meat and poultry and their juices can contaminate safely cooked food.
Use a food thermometer when grilling to ensure meats have reached a safe, internal temperature: 160° for hamburger and ground meats, 165° for poultry and hot dogs, and 145° for steak and meat chops.
For more summer food safety tips, visit:
Contact: Communication Office, Vermont Department of Health, 802-863-7281