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Keep Your Food Safe This Summer

Posted 5/5/2008

Summertime is the season for barbecues, picnics and campouts. During the warmer months, however, safe food practices are often ignored, leading to an increase in food poisoning. Also, increased heat, humidity and lack of cleanliness make it more difficult to properly prevent illness.

University Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) has released two new free publications online, entitled Safety First in Handling of Fruits and Vegetables, and Safety First in Outdoor Food Preparation. Both articles are filled with ideas to keep you and your loved ones safe from food borne illness this summer.

A food borne illness is caused by eating foods contaminated by harmful bacteria or viruses, or that have come into contact with bodily fluids containing harmful bacteria. Symptoms often include a stomachache, vomiting and diarrhea. Food borne illness can easily be mistaken for the flu and other illnesses.

During the summer months, food transportation is one of the biggest issues in food safety. The most important thing to remember is to keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Using items such as slow cookers, insulated containers or ice packs can help to keep your food at the proper temperature while traveling.

Keeping foods separate is also important. Raw meat, poultry and seafood should be kept separately from items that are already cooked or items meant to be eaten raw, such as fruit and vegetables. This helps to avoid cross contamination of foods. All produce should be washed thoroughly.

To further prevent food borne illnesses this summer, follow proper cooking guidelines for meat, poultry and seafood. Along with the basic food preparation rules it is necessary to know the correct internal temperatures and proper storage methods for all food items.

For more information on safe food preparation for the summer months, read the free publications by visiting the UNCE website, click on the publications tab and search "safety first" in the keyword category. UNCE offers many research-based, free online publications on their website on a variety of topics including horticulture, health and nutrition, and community development.

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