Facebook10Tweet0Pin0Submitted by Cathryn Lewis, Occasions CateringWith the recent warm days and the hope of more to come, barbeques, picnics and parties are on our minds and in our calendars. Graduations, Weddings, Memorial Day, 4th of July, the Sun is Shining so Let’s Party, are all great reasons to fire up the grill and stir up some summer fun. Be smart and don’t invite food poisoning as a guest. Roughly 1 in 6 of us will get sick from foodborne illnesses. There are four simple things to do to keep you and your guests healthy as they enjoy your delicious summer soiree.KEEP IT CLEAN – KEEP COLD FOODS COLD – KEEP HOT FOODS HOT – COOK IT THOROUGHLYKEEP IT CLEANWash your hands with hot soapy water before and after handling raw meats.Keep all raw foods separated, don’t let raw meat juices come in contact with other foods.Use separate cutting boards for raw meats, vegetables and breads.Sanitize the work area with 3 tsps. of bleach in one quart of warm water; wipe down counters, and boards.KEEP IT COLDThis can begin at the grocery store. Bring a cooler when shopping in the summer months and make sure you put a layer of ice in the bottom or better yet, the gel filled ice packs, and keep it in the trunk of your car.Choose your meat items last so they spend a very short time in your cart. Once at your vehicle, place your meat in the bottom of the cooler and the other perishables on top of them. At home, unload the cooler first and get these items into the refrigerator.If you need to thaw meat, fish or poultry, do it in the refrigerator, on the lowest shelf, in a dish to prevent juices from dripping or spilling on other food items.Marinating should also take place in a covered container in the refrigerator. Do not marinate at room temperature.Do not have salads sitting out at room temp longer than 2 hours. If you are going to set your buffet for longer than 2 hours or be outdoors you will definitely need to set your cold food items on ice. Cold items need to be at 40 degrees.KEEP IT HOTThis can be a difficult undertaking for the home host. If it’s not hot off the grill and onto a guests plate it needs to be kept hot in a holding pan. A professional caterer, such as Occasions Catering, will have the necessary containment to keep hot foods at the proper temperature, 140 °. The home cook can rent chafing dishes or purchase disposable ones and the sternos needed to heat the pans. This may seem like an unnecessary added expense but it will prevent food poisoning, which is not the memory you want your guest taking away from your event.Make certain your food is at the proper temperature prior to placing it in a chafing dish. In short; use a thermometer.COOK IT THOROUGHLYHere is a quick guide to the temperatures of various summer barbeque items.Ground meat – a uniform internal temperature of 160°Ground poultry – 165°Steak – 145° is considered cooked to medium (although may be considered overcooked by many)130° to 135° is the temperature range where most steaks are most tender and juicyFish – 135°Foods other than meats should be at 140°- 160° coming out of the oven or off the stove.Have a safe and healthy summer.