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.

How to Treat a Sunburn

Even if you take precautions, prolonged exposure to the #summer #sun can produce a nasty #sunburn. To recover quickly, dermatologists interviewed by Prevention magazine recommend taking a cool bath or shower without soap, soaking in a soothing oatmeal bath, applying an ice pack or cold compress, and applying aloe vera or coconut oil to the affected areas. You may also wish to apply a hydrocortisone cream to reduce itching and irritation if the burn is severe, take an aspirin to reduce swelling, and stay hydrated by drinking lots of water and eating water-rich fruits and vegetables such as watermelon and cucumber. Consult a doctor if you experience nausea, chills, fever and extensive blistering. #SunProtection

Seek Protection From the Summer Sun

The longest day of the year may see you out enjoying the #summer #sun. While #sunlight triggers essential vitamin D production, UV rays can damage the skin. About 5 million people are treated for skin cancer each year in United States for skin cancer, the CDC says. To avoid becoming a statistic, Montclair State University offers several recommendations: Reduce #sun exposure “by seeking shade under an umbrella, tree, canopy or any other shade structure.” Plan outdoor activities for the early morning or late afternoon hours. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and long sleeves. And apply a broad-spectrum #sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher to all exposed areas. #SunProtection

You May Need More Sunscreen Than You Think

#Sun protection isn’t rocket science. But many people don’t apply enough #sunscreen early or often enough. For the best results, one must apply ample amounts of sunscreen at least 15 minutes before exposure, using at least an ounce (about one shot glass) to cover the exposed areas of the adult body. “Most studies have shown that individuals only apply half of the recommended amount, so applying sunscreen twice should be considered,” dermatologist Dr. Mariana Philips told the Virginia Tech News. “Also, sunscreens should be applied every two hours [during] sun exposure or following water immersion.” #SunProtection

Use Sunscreens Effectively to Protect Your Skin

When purchasing #sunscreens, remember that the SPF indicates the product’s protection against a burn from UVB rays. SPF 15, for example, gives a person approximately 15 times the length of protection before burning — and that may represent only a matter of minutes depending on one’s complexion, age and other factors. UVA rays are also damaging, so find products that contain titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avobenzone, Mexoryl or Parsol 1789. Reapply sunscreens every two hours to maintain #sun protection, and be aware that perspiration, water and insect repellents can compromise their effectiveness. #SunProtection