Is Your Food Losing Its Cool?

Did you know that bacteria in food multiply faster at temperatures between 40°F and 140°F? During the summer when food is often exposed to higher temperatures, it’s especially important to practice proper food safety to avoid foodborne illnesses. PCHD’s Environmental and Food Safety team shares tips below on how you can keep the food you serve your family safe to eat.
  • Summer heat stresses refrigerators. Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature of your refrigerator regularly to assure that it is consistently 41°F or below. Your freezer temperature should be 0°F or below.
  • Have your refrigerator services by a professional if you notice it’s not keeping foods cold enough.
  • When running errands, make your grocery shopping your last stop before you go home. Foods left in the car during summer heat can perish quickly.
  • Refrigerate (or freeze) meat, poultry, seafood, milk, cheese and other perishables within two hours after purchasing. Refrigerate within one hour if the temperature outside is above 90°. The sooner you can get cold foods in the fridge, the better.
  • Remember that tomatoes and melons need to be refrigerated after they are cut.
  • Always marinate food in the refrigerator instead of leaving it out on the counter.
  • When prepping a meal, plan accordingly to minimize opening and closing the doors on your refrigerator.
  • Never set foods out on the counter to thaw food at room temperature. There are three safe ways to defrost food including in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave. Food thawed in cold water or in the microwave should be cooked immediately.
  • Cool food rapidly after cooking by:
    • Dividing larger amounts of food for storage in several smaller containers
    • Putting it in shallow containers where the food is not more than 2-3” deep
    • Using an ice bath to rapidly chill foods
    • Cooling foods in metal containers instead of plastic or ceramic ones
    • Leaving the food uncovered until after it cools
    • Refrigerating food promptly
  • Refrigerate leftovers immediately after a meal is over.
  • Discard any perishable foods that have been out of temperature control for more than two hours.
  • When taking perishable food to a picnic or party, transport it in a cooler on ice.
  • When serving food outdoors, store and serve the food in a shaded area whenever possible.
  • When setting up an outdoor buffet, it is best to serve perishable foods on ice.
  • Discard any perishable foods that  have been out of temperature control for more than an hour if the temperature is above 85F.