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Picnics, and Bar-b-ques, and Food Poisoning, oh my!

"Food, and lots of it!", is one of the trademarks of a great 4th of July weekend, and the USDA wants to be sure you're safe from food-born illness during the warm summer months. Food poisoning and food borne illness, affects 48 million Americans, or 1 in 6 people, every year.

The USDA's Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), is staffed by food safety experts, and their phone rings off the hook around this time of year with questions about their perishable foods and when is it considered too long to leave them out. So, to stay clear of the Danger Zone this summer, follow these steps:

  • 1-2 hours: If you don't have refrigeration or a heat source, perishables should NOT be left out more than two hours if the outside temperature is at or below 90 ⁰F, and only one hour if the temperature is at or above 90 F. As it is almost every year, the weather will likely be very hot on July 4th, so your food should be back in the cooler within an hour.
  • When in doubt, throw it out: If you are not sure how long food has been sitting out, throw it out immediately.
  • Keep it cold : If it's supposed to be cold, keep it at or below 40 °F, with ice and/or frozen gel packs in a cooler. Any leftovers should be packed small and refrigerated at or below 40 °F within two hours.
  • Keep it hot : If it's supposed to be hot, keep it at or above 140 °F, on the grill or in insulated containers, heated chafing dishes, warming trays and/or slow cookers. If food needs to be reheated, reheat it to 165 °F.
  • Pack small : Divide large amounts of food into shallow containers for fast chilling and easier use.
  • Drinks get their own cooler: It is highly recommended to pack drinks in a separate cooler than food so that the food cooler can stay at a more evenly cold temperature, and keep bacteria at bay. The USDA also recommends keeping the food cooler in the shade, and to try to cover it with a blanket or tarp to keep it cool. Replenish the ice if it melts.
  • Thermometers : to check that the cooler is keeping at a chilly 40 °F, and that the internal temperature of meat, poultry and seafood is at the "Is It Done Yet?" stage, use thermometers. The USDA stated, "You absolutely cannot tell whether the meat is safely cooked by just looking."
  • Marinate in the Refrigerator : Marinating meat and/or poultry should be done in the refrigerator - not on your kitchen counter. Warm temperatures and raw meat equal a sure way to serve food borne illness to your loved ones.

Help your family enjoy all the bar-b-ques and picnics without the worry of bacteria, viruses and parasites by following the simple steps provided by the USDA. Everyone at The Attivo Group wishes you and your family a wonderful 4th of July weekend!

Proactive Recall Management Webinar

Do you have a food manufacturing business? While no food manufacturer wants to go through a recall, being properly prepared for one can be the difference between a small financial hit and a crippling blow to their business. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has placed additional burdens on manufacturers to protect public health and safety.

Our webinar, “Recall Management: The Importance of Being Proactive”, will discuss some of the new regulations in the FSMA, outline the importance of having automated systems, explain how digital document management systems can save you time and money and outline how to implement proper machine maintenance schedules. We hope to see you there!