Keep Your Hands Sanitary
We all know basic hygiene and that includes keeping your hands clean. However, it is worth noting that food sanitation starts with your hands, be certain anyone handling food at any stage of its preparation has clean and sanitary hands. Dirty hands is one of the most common ways that food gets dirtied or contaminated. Washing your hands isn’t just about using the restroom or being visibly dirty. Tasks such as smoking a cigarette, or even just scratching your nose introduces a world of bacteria to your hands. When in doubt, Wash it out!
Wash all outdoor kitchen cooking equipment
Nothing quite beats the awesome feeling of cooking outdoors in your outdoor living space! However, it’s important that we remember to clean all food preparation and cooking surfaces. Just as important is to ensure all cooking equipment, utensils, and dishes are cleaned before use. While on the surface all of this cleaning seems obvious but it’s imperative to follow through with because just about anything can lead to contamination including raw meat, eggs, and poultry. If you wash a dish or surface that contained raw meat, be sure to clean and rinse the sponge you used to clean the item!
Rinse and wash all Fruits and Vegetables
Meat and poultry aren’t the only contagions we have to worry about. When it comes to fruits and veggies the big concern is the soil attached to them. The dirt has the potential to contain bacteria such as e-coli so it best to wash the produce in a bowl under running water. This is especially true for loose produce as it more like to have soil attached to it compared to pre-packaged fruits and vegetables.
Keep all food cool
It’s easy to get caught up in hosting and cooking responsibilities, but its important to keep foods such as cheese, coleslaw, or chicken salad inside your outdoor fridge or cooler until your ready to serve the complete meal. Foods made with mayonnaise should especially be kept cool as the high dairy contents lead to bacteria when left in a warm environment. Keep raw meats and chicken separate from other surfaces and foods, using plastic bags is a great way to keep them from one another.
Invest in a meat thermometer
The amount of time on heat and minimum temperature vary from meat to poultry and from the frying pan to an outdoor grill. Chicken, for example, has a minimum cooking temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, which is where your meat thermometer comes in handy. Ground beef is especially sensitive by its very nature, hamburger meat is chopped and reduced which can lead to bacteria being internalized. Best Practice is to cook the hamburger meat until its also brown through the center.