Preventing Foodborne Illnesses at Summer Gatherings


As the sun shines and temperatures rise, outdoor gatherings become a staple of summer. Whether you’re hosting a backyard barbecue, attending a picnic, or enjoying a beachside cookout, it’s essential to prioritize food safety. After all, nothing can put a damper on a sunny day faster than a bout of food poisoning.

Why Summer Increases the Risk

Foodborne illnesses tend to spike during the summer months. Why? Bacteria thrive in warm weather, multiplying faster when the mercury rises. Additionally, outdoor cooking often takes us away from the comforts of refrigerators, thermometers, and sinks. But fear not! By following some simple guidelines, you can keep your summer events both delicious and safe.

Cleanliness Is Key: Wash Hands and Surfaces Often: Before handling food, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Also, clean cutting boards, utensils, and countertops to prevent cross-contamination.

Separate to Avoid Cross-Contamination: Don’t Mix Raw and Cooked Foods: Keep raw meats, poultry, and seafood separate from ready-to-eat foods. Use separate cutting boards and utensils to avoid cross-contamination.

Cook Food to Proper Temperatures: Use a Food Thermometer: Ensure that meats are cooked to safe internal temperatures. For example:

  • Chicken and turkey: 165°F (74°C)
  • Ground beef: 160°F (71°C)
  • Steaks and roasts: 145°F (63°C)

Chill Promptly: Keep Cold Foods Cold: Bacteria grow rapidly between 40°F (4°C) and 140°F (60°C). When serving outdoors, use extra cold sources like ice packs or frozen water bottles in your cooler. Store perishable items below 40°F to prevent spoilage.

Mind the Marination: Marinating meats adds flavor, but it’s essential to do it safely. Always marinate in the refrigerator, not on the countertop. If you plan to use some of the marinade as a sauce, set aside a separate portion before adding raw meat. Discard any leftover marinade that has come into contact with raw proteins.

Allergen Awareness: Label Allergens: If you’re hosting a potluck-style event, ask guests to label dishes containing common allergens like nuts, dairy, or gluten. This helps everyone make informed choices and prevents accidental exposure.

Community Quick Care: Your Safety Net

Remember, accidents happen. If someone falls ill during your summer event, know that Community Quick Care is here for you. With our convenient LaVergne location, our primary care walk-in clinic offers urgent care hours. Staffed by compassionate Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners, we prioritize high-quality comprehensive care. Most insurance plans are accepted, so you can focus on enjoying your summer without worry.

Stay safe, stay cool, and savor those summer flavors!

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