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Food Safety Tips for Summer Cooking

Food Safety

Food Safety Tips for Summer Cooking

Welcome to summer! 

If there is one thing Midwesterners know how to do when the weather gets warm, it’s eat and drink outside. With the winter we’ve just survived, who can blame us for wanting to suck the marrow out of summer, and spend as much time outdoors as possible?  It’s where your customers want to be. And for some of you, it’s where you do a lot of cooking. 

Cooking outside can be a challenge, though. Even the most experienced chefs face food safety risks. The USDA says that foodborne illness risks rise significantly in the summer because of the warmer weather. It’s important to remind your staff to be diligent about cleanliness, time and temperature.  Here are a few simple food safety tips that will help keep your staff, your customers, and your operation safe this summer: 

  • Wash your produce before packing it in a cooler or setting up outside—whole fruits as well as vegetables. It will make every job easier to start. Make sure your staff has somewhere to wash their hands. If gloves are being used, instruct employees to put on a clean pair before starting each new task. 
  • Do not reuse your marinade. Marinades, even after being boiled, cans harbor harmful bacteria. If you plan on using the same marinade for two tasks, before marinating your meat, fish, or poultry, reserve a small portion for basting, or to use later. 
  • Use a separate set of plates and tongs when grilling and preparing raw and cooked foods. Use separate cutting boards—for fish, chicken, meat, vegetables—too.
  • The same rules that apply to your walk-in refrigerator apply outside—keep your meats, fruits and vegetables separate. Pack any traveling food in separate coolers to avoid cross contamination. The most basic food safety challenge in the summer is keeping food cold. So be sure to pack coolers with foods that are already cold, keep coolers out of the sun, keep them closed as much as possible. In addition, practice FILO—First In, Last Out. The first thing you pack in your cooler should be the last thing you’re going to need. This will save you from having to dig around and help your cooler stay cold loner.
  • Make sure your staff keeps a thermometer handy. No using the “touch” method to see if something is done. In the case of fish, seafood, and poultry, the touch method can cause a problem. In the case of 90º heat, it can cause an even bigger problem. Here’s a quick link to refresh your memory on safe cooking temperatures.  

Happy Summer! Stay Safe!