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Food Safety Tips for Spring and Summer Festivities

A breath of fresh air, fuller trees and fresh blossoms can mean only one thing  – It’s springtime!

A few safety tips will help ensure your spring and summer festivities are enjoyable. Cooking outdoors needs special precautions. Take out raw meat and other cooked items only when needed. Bacteria are always on a lookout for moist temperatures to start growing on foods. Also while cooking out in nature, make sure to keep the food covered at all times.

Why Food Safety Is Important

Cooking food safely not only during spring and summer but throughout the year can bring you some serious health benefits. Some foods that should be cooked at the right temperature are ham, lamb, eggs and beef. Raw meats need certain ideal temperature to be cooked well. Cooking these food items safely needs special attention.

Some useful tips:

HAM: Fresh, uncooked hams, spiral-cut or fully cooked or country ham can be prepared safely between 140 F to 145 F.

Cooking ham at this temperature kills any harmful germs and helps bring out the important nutrients.

LAMB: Regardless of the cut – shanks, shoulders or steaks — lamb must be cooked at a safe temperature of 145 F with three minutes of resting time.

Anyone fond of cooking must have a food thermometer. It makes sure that all disease-causing bacteria are completely destroyed.

EGGS: Any egg dish for immediate consumption should not be kept out at room temperature for more than two hours.

And serve cooked egg dishes immediately.

BEEF: Beef brisket, unlike other beef cuts, requires a longer cooking time.

While cooking in an oven, make sure to cover the meat with about one inch of water in no less than 325 F.

Also make sure to keep the container covered during the entire cooking time.

The next level for food safety tips is hygiene. Separate raw meat from cooked food to avoid spreading foodborne diseases.

Poultry, fish, and meats should be cooked at least at 165 degrees.

Temperatures to cook raw meat:

FoodInternal Temperature
Beef (Ground)160°F
Chicken or Turkey (Ground)165°F
Beef, Veal & Lamb (Roasts, Chops, Steaks)160-170°F
Pork160°F
Chicken and Turkey Breasts170°F
Chicken or Turkey (legs, thighs & wings)180°F

While meat, fish, and poultry, make sure to wash them separately in different containers. Wash your hands in between cooking and handling raw food.

With spring comes spring cleaning, the perfect time to give the kitchen a quick safety check. Though the kitchen area must be clean throughout the year, spring is the time to clear out all the winter holiday foods.

Safely dispose off any leftovers that have not been stored properly for more than four days. Wash the kitchen counters and utensils with hot soapy water before and after preparing meals.

Unrefrigerated foods especially during the spring and summer tend to rot sooner. Spoiled food can’t always be detected just by its appearance or taste. Do not risk your health by tasting such foods to check their validity. Don’t think twice before tossing out food with a layer of mold.

Storing raw meat in a plastic bag at the bottom of your refrigerator can prevent the juices from dripping on and spoiling other foods items. Also, regularly clean drawers, shelves, and the inside of a refrigerator with hot soapy water instead of using chemical based disinfectants.

A few guidelines on how to store various food products at different temperatures:

PRODUCTSTORAGE PERIOD
In Refrigerator 40 degrees F (5 degrees C)In Freezer 0 degrees F (-18 degrees C)
Fresh Meat:
Beef: Ground1-2 days3-4 months
Steaks and roasts3-5 days6-12 months
Pork: Chops3-5 days4-6 months
Ground1-2 days3-4 months
Roasts3-5 days4-6 months
Cured Meats:
Lunch Meat3-5 days1-2 months
Sausage1-2 days1-2 months
Hot dogsUnopened, 2 weeks

Opened, 1 week

Prepared salads (egg, tuna, etc.)3-5 daysDon’t freeze
Gravy1-2 days2-3 months
Soups or stews3-4 days2-3 months
Fish:
Lean (such as cod, flounder, haddock)1-2 daysup to 6 months
Fatty (such as blue, perch, salmon)1-2 days2-3 months
Chicken: Whole1-2 days12 months
Parts1-2 days9 months
Giblets1-2 days3-4 months
Dairy products:
Swiss, brick, processed, cheese3-4 weeks*
Soft cheese1 week6 months
Milk5 days1 month
Ice cream, ice milk2-4 months
Butter1-3 months6-9 months
Buttermilk7-14 days3 months
Cream cheese2 weeks
Cream3-5 days4 months
Sour cream7-21 days
Yogurt7-10 days
Eggs: Fresh in the shell3 weeks
Hard-boiled1 week
Pasteurized liquid3 days (opened)

10 days (unopened)

1 year
Mayonnaise2 monthsdon’t freeze
TV dinners3-4 months
Store-bought convenience meals1-2 days
Cooked meat leftovers3-4 days2-3 months
Pizza3-4 days1-2 months
Stuffing, cooked3-4 days1 month
Dough – tube can, cookiesuse-by date2 months (don’t freeze tube cans)

Celebrating the spring md summer with friends and family around the barbeque can be so much more relaxing when all safety measures are in order. Enjoy!

This article originally appeared on Foods4BetterHealth.com.

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