Tuesday, June 18th, 2013
Picnics are a great way to enjoy warm summer days, but food poisoning can ruin the fun. The Partnership for Food Safety Education launched the free Perfect Picnic app, just in time for the summer grilling season. Perfect Picnic teaches kids ages 8-11 about the importance of food safety and how to reduce their risk of food poisoning.
I recently tested Perfect Picnic to see what I could learn, and I was so impressed. I was the master of my own park filled with trees, outdoor kitchens, and several of my park “friends.” In order to pay for all of my park amenities, I rented out barbeque spots and kept my visitors happy.
However, I quickly learned that if my park wasn’t clean, my “friends” would leave. I needed to act fast! Luckily, I made sure all visitors knew how to wash their hands to reduce the risk of contaminating food and use a food thermometer to avoid problems from undercooked meat. I also needed to keep coolers filled with ice, so all perishables stayed chilled to 40°F. In addition, all food preparation surfaces needed to be kept clean.
Perfect Picnic is a great way for kids to learn about safe food handling practices in a fun, engaging way. After a few rounds on the app, kids will be ready to help out at the next barbeque. Click here to download Perfect Picnic.
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Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011
Over the last few weeks, Europe has seen a particularly nasty outbreak of E.Coli, a common bacteria that in some strains can cause serious food poisoning. Some of the people affected were children, and their plight got us thinking about how to keep our food safe. Here are five tips for food poisoning prevention:
1. Use a meat thermometer to make sure your meat is cooked properly. Ground beef and pork should be cooked until it’s 160 degrees, while fish, steaks and roasts should be cooked to 145. Cook chicken and turkey until it’s 165 degrees.
2. If you’re served undercooked meat in a restaurant, send it back and ask for a new plate. If you’re unsure that any food you’ve bought or cooked is prepared, stored, or cooked safely, don’t taste it to make sure—just throw it out.
3. Wash all produce thoroughly before eating, even if you plan to peel it. And that’s not the only thing you need to wash! Whenever you’ve handled raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs, wash your hands, the knife you used, and your cutting board, as well as any other surfaces the food has touched. Use warm, soapy water—not dish soap. Plastic cutting boards are easier to wash than wooden ones.
4. Don’t thaw your food at room temperature. Instead, thaw it in the fridge (or use your microwave’s “defrost” or “50 percent power” setting) and eat it as soon as you take it out. Your fridge should be at a temperature of 40 degrees or below. If you’ve frozen something and then thawed it, don’t freeze it again. Put perishable foods in the fridge or freezer within two hours of buying them.
5. Keep raw foods separate from ready-to-eat foods. This doesn’t just apply to your cooking surface, but to your fridge and grocery cart, too. This prevents ready-to-eat foods from getting contaminated.
Tips adapted from MayoClinic.com
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