Food Safety and the Summer Cookout

Only a week in, this #summer is shaping up to be a hot one for much of the United States. It’s also prime time for family #cookouts, so the home chef would do well to review #food #safety practices for hot weather to head off any health issues that could ruin an otherwise festive event.

An estimated one in six people gets sick from a #foodborne illness each year. Granted, not every foodborne illness results from a #picnic or #cookout, but that seasonal combination of food, outdoor living, shared dishes, heat and pests makes them especially vulnerable.

Mayonnaise-based salads are notorious for spoiling in the sun. Limit cold foods’ potential to harbor harmful bacteria by keeping them indoors until needed, says Martha Stewart, use a cooler to maintain refrigeration, and serve foods such as shrimp over an ice bath.

Other common-sense tips apply whether you grill outdoors or prepare something in the kitchen. First and most obvious? Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before preparing any foods — and wash them again after handling raw meat, fish and egg yolks.

Cross-contamination — the process in which bacteria spreads from food or poorly washed hands to other surfaces — is a problem, Consumer Reports says. Never use the same cutting board for meat and produce, and avoid reaching for the spices or condiments after handling raw meat.

#Clean your grill properly by scrubbing the grates with a grilling brush. Use a food thermometer to cook foods to the proper internal temperatures to ensure that any harmful bacteria burn off: Cook cuts of red meat and fish to a reading of at least 145°F, ground meats to 160°F, and pork and poultry to 165°F.

After the feast, food storage is just as important. Cooked foods should be refrigerated in less than two hours when the outdoor temperatures are under 90°F, and that limit drops to one hour when the temperatures soar. If you don’t know how long something has been sitting or it starts to look/smell a little suspect, throw it out.

Keep your summer cookouts fun for everyone! Protect yourself, your family and your guests from the potential of foodborne illnesses.

Keep Your Cookout Sustainable

Make a casual #cookout more #sustainable by using accessories such as compostable paper plates and bamboo cutlery and reusable linen or cotton napkins, Martha Stewart suggests. Another idea to make the event more #ecofriendly is to serve low-impact foodstuffs such as chicken, fish and vegetables rather than beef, says Move for Hunger, and use a gas grill to reduce carbon emissions. Save leftovers to avoid food waste, make recycling easy for guests by labeling waste bins and compost food scraps to enrich your soil at a later date. #CasualCookout

Throw a Summer Cookout in Style

If you want to have a cookout that’s “more of an event than just a few guys grilling some burgers,” Real Men Real Style says, send invites ahead of time via social media. Then, tidy up the yard to keep things presentable, #uncluttered and safe. Pick quality ingredients for the grill and dress for the event: “There are plenty of outfit options that will keep your temperature down while maintaining [a] level of style.” Breathable fabrics such as linen and cotton are best for tending a grill in hot weather, and light colors soak up less sun. On a budget? Shop for lightly used summery styles at the #thrift stores supplied by #donations to #ClassyCookout

Add a Touch of Class to Your Cookout

Want to add a touch of class to your #cookout? Make your table settings sophisticated, says Havenly Hideaway. Use fresh flowers, a tablecloth and real plates instead of paper and plastic, and set the table in advance before serving up dishes family-style. Make a batch of a signature cocktail to your barbecue feel more like a special event, the site adds: “Pick something that’s easy to make, like punch or a margarita, so you can put out a big pitcher for everyone to try.” If some of your guests are younger or teetotalers, you can leave the alcohol out of the blend or serve it on the side. #ClassyCookout

Have a Casual, Crowd-Pleasing Cookout

Summer means outdoor living, and there’s nothing quite like hosting a #cookout to bring family and friends together. You can keep things casual with crowd-pleasing classics such as burgers, brats and cole slaw, Delish says, or take things up a notch with chicken kebabs, grilled oysters or lime shrimp. Be sure to include a good side such as potato salad or grilled vegetables, and a quick-grab dessert such as s’mores or watermelon. Whatever’s on the menu, keep it low-key: Turn on the Bluetooth speaker and set up a lawn game, and guests are guaranteed to get some good vibes. #CasualCookout