6 Summer Party Food Safety Tips To Keep Refrigerated Food Safe In The Heat

How To Keep Food Safe In The Heat

mayonnaise salad
Mayonnaise salads are high risk for food poisoning if left in the heat.

Revised July 30, 2020 – Originally published on July 13, 2020 Deborah Esplin

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This blog is about all the salads, side dishes, and other refrigerated foods that you have at your outdoor party and how to make sure they are safe outside in the heat. How long can you keep refrigerated foods outside in the heat and why? What foods are the most at risk to make you sick if they stay too long in the heat?

Food Poisoning is a Common Summer Problem

Food Poisoning rates increase in the summer. It is a common summer problem because we cook and eat outside in the heat.

In the previous blog post in this series,  Summer Party Outdoor Cooking Tips, Summer Party Outdoor Cooking Tips, I looked at how to cook your meat, fish and seafood to a safe internal temperature and the good practises you should follow.

How Long Can You Keep Refrigerated Foods In A Hot Environment

How long can you keep food in a hot environment? For many foods, there are limits on how long the food will remain safe to eat. Here are recommendations from the US and Canadian governments.

How Long Can You Keep Food in a Hot Environment Not on Ice

USA Recommendations
Air temperature 4 – 30 C / 40 – 90 F 2 hours
Air temperature over 30 C / 90 F 1 hour
Canada Recommendations
Food temperature between 4 – 60 C / 40 – 140 F 2 hours

The Danger Zone

This temperature above, where you should not keep refrigerated foods for more than 1 or 2 hours is called the Danger Zone: 4 – 60 C. Any food that requires refrigeration can have bacteria growth in these temperatures and can become unsafe to eat.

Colder than 4 C / 40 F, food is refrigerated. Warmer than 60 C / 140 F, food stays hot and bacteria will not grow.

How Fast Do Bacteria Grow?

Bacteria grow really fast in the danger zone. E. coli at the best temperature will double every 20 minutes. So look at this, you start with 1 and…

20 minutes later you have 2, 40 minutes later you have 4, In 1 hour you have 16

1 hour 20 minutes you have 256, 1 hour 40 minutes you have 65,536 and in 2 hours you have 4,294,967,296. That is definitely enough bacteria to make you sick.

That is why these tips are so important. In the heat, bacteria grows very quickly. Exponentially.

How to Keep Refrigerated Foods Safe Outdoors In the Heat

  1. Keep meat, fish, and seafood on the grill where they stay warm. See the minimum holding temperature for cooked foods above.
  2. Put all food in the shade.
  3. Cover the food to keep sunshine and bugs off the surface.
  4. Put uncooked foods like salads and sandwiches, hummus etc. on ice, especially risky foods.

If refrigerated foods will be out for more than two hours, for example at a long buffet, make ice baths to put your foods in.

ice cubes
Ice is good to keep food cold in the heat.

How To Make An Ice Bath

Take a bigger container and fill it with ice or ice packs. Your bigger container could be a bowl, a plastic tub, a pan, a tray. Anything that is large enough to hold the ice and the platter/bowl with the food. It is important that the food not sink into the ice or ice packs. So the platter/bowl needs to be stable in the ice bath.

Other Ways To Keep Food Cold

If you have a large cooler, fill it with ice and use that for your refrigerated side dishes. Or you can bring some of the food out from the fridge for one hour, keep it on ice, then put it in the fridge and rotate through the foods during the evening.

If you have a small refrigerator that you can bring to your party, that is great too.

Whatever you do, make sure to keep the refrigerated side dishes cold and at refrigeration temperature. Use your food thermometer to measure the temperature inside your side dishes. Make your food thermometer your friend. It is not just useful for meat but for any food that needs temperature control. I really like this digital thermometer because it is waterproof, has a long stem, and is not expensive. It’s available on Amazon here.

What Are the Riskiest Foods for Bacteria Growth?

  • Any foods with mayonnaise
  • Any foods with sour cream, cream, milk, whipped cream, or custard
  • Any foods with cold cuts or sandwich meats
  • Any foods with hard-boiled eggs, shrimp, fish, meat
  • Any raw meat, fish, seafood, or foods made with these items

Examples of risky foods:

    • Potato salad
    • Deviled eggs
    • Sushi & Shrimp rings
    • Sandwiches with meats, fish, egg and/or mayonnaise
    • Meat & fish salads
    • Guacamole & Hummus

This list includes most salads, sandwiches, and favourite side dishes at outdoor parties. All these foods should be kept in a cooler, in a fridge or on ice. See the paragraph above for how to treat these foods.

If in doubt, throw it out. Don’t risk a case of food poisoning.

Less Risky Summer Foods

What are some of the foods that are not risky to eat at your summer outdoor meal? There are a lot and these foods do not need to be kept refrigerated, in the cooler or on ice.

    • Fresh, washed crudités (the dip may need to be on ice)
    • Pasta, vegetable salads with olive oil (no eggs, meat, fish, or seafood)
    • Pickled vegetables & Roasted vegetables
    • Fresh washed fruits
    • Condiments & salsas
    • Snacks like chips, popcorn & nuts
    • Fruit bars & Crunchy cookies with no icing
    • Zucchini chips & roasted chickpeas

These foods are not at risk for food poisoning, but they are at risk for texture and taste changes. They can go soggy if it is humid, change colour if they are in the sun or go rancid. These foods should be covered as well when people are not serving themselves.

Tips On Serving Bowls, Plates And Glasses

If you are like me and you have a patio, then you have to worry about bare feet and pets if glass or ceramic breaks on this surface. Any brittle materials like that are hard to completely up and who doesn’t run around in bare feet in the summer.

That is why I have washable plastic serving plates and glasses. Plus, I am not tempted to use disposable foam or paper products because I have durable, resuable, microsave and dishwasher safe reusable plates. These  plates  from Shopwithgreen, available from Amazon, are sturdy and environmentally friendly as they are made with plant materials and only some plastic.

For serving the food, especially if it will go in an ice bath, I use plastic bowls with lids. These ones from Kitchen Aid, available at Amazon, are not expensive, are durable and dishwasher safe. I really enjoy these bowls.

Summer Party Food Tips Summary

  1. Keep meat, fish, and seafood on the grill and warm. See the minimum holding temperature for cooked foods above.
  2. Put all food in the shade.
  3. Cover the food to keep sunshine and bugs off the surface.
  4. Put uncooked foods like salads and sandwiches, hummus etc. on ice, especially risky foods.
  5. Keep foods that need refrigeration on an ice bath, in a cooler or in the fridge.
  6. Check the temperature of your side dishes with a food thermometer.

Check out my video on this topic:



Here is a link to the other blog post in this series: Summer Party Outdoor Cooking Tips.

Check out posts on other topics here: Blog Table of Contents.

Join my monthly newsletter to get new posts in your mailbox and access to the recipe cards and tip sheets.

Comments are welcome. I would love to know what you think.


 

Best Practices Against Covid In The Home 5 Tips To Keep Your Food Safe

This is the first blog in a series on Stay Safe During The Pandemic.

Revised July 29, 2020  Originally published July 24, 2020 Deborah Esplin

These tips and best practices come from the Canadian Government on how to keep your food safe from COVID.

  1. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water or use hand sanitizer if you do not have access to soap and water.

Why is the hand wash method effective?

The hand wash method, described in tip 1 is effective but why? Soaps are formulated to chemically bond with oils, proteins, and sugars and pull them from a surface. That surface can be a dirty dish or your hands. COVID is a virus and viruses do not have protective membranes. COVID has an oily coating. So when you wash your hands with soap, the soap bonds with the oily coating around the virus, pulling it away and leaving the virus without protection. The virus is inactivated. That is why it is so important to use soap. Just using water will not clean your hands.

Why warm water? Because soaps are made to work better in warm water. They are more effective.

Why 20 seconds because that is the minimum time you need to get in all the cracks and crevices of your hands.

These are the reasons why it is important to wash hands according to the method so that you will remove dirt, bacteria and Coronavirus.

How to wash fruits, vegetables, and produce

  1. Wash your fruits & vegetables under running water.

Fruits, vegetables, and produce are porous and can absorb soaps. You do not want to wash them with a disinfectant, sanitizer, or soap unless it is a product that is specifically formulated for fruits, vegetables and produce. The foods can absorb the soap and it may not be good for your health. The government recommends putting them under running water to wash away anything.

COVID is not a food-borne illness. You will not get food poisoning from it. A good rinse should be adequate.

Cook your food

  1. Cook your food to recommended safe internal temperatures.

In my blog and video on Outdoor Cooking Eating Do’s & Don’ts, I talked about the minimum internal temperatures to cook various meats and the minimum temperatures to hold cold food. The heat from cooking will deactivate the virus. Click HERE for the blog and HERE for the video. They both review the temperatures from various governments; the USA, Canada, Australia, and the UK.

Keep different foods separate

  1. Keep the raw and cooked foods separate and use separate tools or wash tools with soap and water.

Raw foods can carry all kinds of contamination, bacteria, viruses, bugs, mold, twigs, and more. It is important to keep them separate. You do not want to accidentally contaminate your cooked burgers with E. coli by putting them back on the plate that held the raw burgers. If there were E. coli in the raw meat, you will now have it in your cooked meat.

Clean your surfaces

  1. Disinfect surfaces that come into contact with food

The government recommends that you disinfect your food prep surfaces. In two weeks, I will cover how to make your disinfectant using the recipe from the government and I will also cover other ways to clean and disinfect.

With these tips, you can be confident, that your food and surfaces will be safe from Coronavirus and just general bad bugs that can give you food poisoning.

Tip Summary

  1. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water or use hand sanitizer if you do not have access to soap and water.
  2. Wash your fruits & vegetables under running water.
  3. Cook your food to recommended safe internal temperatures.
  4. Keep the raw and cooked foods separate and use separate tools or wash tools with soap and water.
  5. Disinfect surfaces that come into contact with food.

Check out my video on this topic:

Here is a link to the next blog post in this series: Best Practices Against Covid In The Home To Keep Your Food Safe

Other blog posts in this series:

9 Tips On How To Stay Safe While Shopping During COVID

Safe Home Delivery Tips And Should You Wash Your Groceries?

5 Tips On How To Keep Your Home Safe From COVID

 

Check out posts on other topics here: Blog Table of Contents.

Join my monthly newsletter to get new posts in your mailbox and access to the recipe cards and tip sheets.

Comments are welcome. I would love to know what you think.


 

9 Tips On How To Stay Safe While Shopping During Covid

This is the second blog in a series on Stay Safe During The Pandemic.

Revised August 2, 2020  Originally published July 28, 2020 Deborah Esplin

Do you wonder how to shop safely during the pandemic? During this time with coronavirus, COVID-19? What should you do to be safe when you get home? We will look at the 9 tips from the government of Canada that answer these questions.

Safe shopping tips during covid
Safe shopping with a mask.

Safe Shopping During Coronavirus, COVID-19

Sanitize your hands at the store entrance

Whether it is required in your area or not, this is a good idea. That way we stop adding to the contamination that people bring into the store and leave in the store. If stores do not have a supply on hand, then bring your own.

Bring your own reusable grocery bags if permitted. Otherwise, use the store bags

If you have reusable grocery bags that can be thrown in the washer that is the best. Then you can use them once and wash them and you know they will be clean. If the stores don’t permit you to bring your own bags, then follow the remaining tips below to be safe.

Maintain a physical distance of 2 metres between people

The stores seem well organized in my area in terms of putting lines on pavement outside the door and at the check out stations. But they are not necessarily that well organized in helping people keep their distance in the aisles. If the aisles have not been marked for one-way traffic, then the best is to follow the flow of people and go in the same direction as everyone else. You may need to slow down your shopping trip so that you wait until aisles are clear and you can safely proceed and keep the distance.

Wear a non-medical mask or face covering in public

Whether it is required in your area or not, wearing a face mask in indoor, public spaces is a good idea.

There have been several studies carried out on people that test positive for the virus but do not feel ill and do not have symptoms. In China, this study was carried out and reported in the journal of Nature Medicine in July 2020. The study found that spread of the virus by asymptomatic people is a significant source of transmission in the population. However, the World Health Organization, in June 2020, says there is not enough research to have a definitive answer on this question. Research is ongoing and there are several studies that do point to the virus being spread by people who do not know they are sick. This article, in the Advisory Board , has a good summary of the research.
For these reasons, by wearing a face mask, we protect other people from our own breath. If we all wear face masks, we protect each other.

Don’t touch items you will not buy

As much as possible, do not touch an item unless you are going to buy it. This way we reduce the contamination between put on the items in the store and we reduce the potential contamination that we can pickup while shopping.

Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth

When you are outside the home and/or wearing a mask, do not touch your face or any part of it. If you hands have become contaminated, you could contaminate yourself. If your mask has become contaminated, you could contaminate your hands and then yourself.
We touch our faces, according to this study, an average of 23 times per hour. Most of the time we are not aware of this. It is a good idea to become aware of when you are touching your face and making a conscious effort to not touch it.

Sanitize your hands when you leave the store

If hand sanitizer is offered by the store when you leave, use it. That way you will not keep any potential contamination on your hands while you continue your errands.

Wash your hands when you get home

This should not surprise anyone. Governments and health experts around the world have been saying this for several months. Whenever you come in your home from having been outside you should wash them with warm water and soap. In my blog last week, Best Practises Against COVID-19 For Your Food (link), I talked about why soap and water are effective. Check that out for more information.
When you come home, if your hands have become contaminated, you don not want to spread that contamination around your house. By washing your hands as soon as you enter, you will prevent that from happening and keep your home safe.

Put away your groceries

Once you have returned home and washed your hands, you put away your groceries.

Wash your hands after putting away the groceries 

Once all the groceries are put away, you wash your hands again. In case there was some contamination on the groceries, you will get it off your hands.

My Safe Shopping Routine

I have a small bag, which I call my COVID kit, and there I have clean masks, baggies for dirty masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.
I sanitize my hand and shopping cart when I enter a store. I wear a mask and stay away from people. I will remind people to keep their distance if they get too close. When I leave the store, I sanitize my hands again so that I will not contaminate my car. In case there is no sanitizer at the exit I have my own in my kit.

When I get home, I wash my hands, and put the bags of groceries on the floor. I pull out my food items and put them on the counter for sorting, then I put them away. Then I wash my hands again. I will then wash or disinfect my kitchen counters, put the grocery bags in the wash. With a disinfectant wipe or cloth and disinfectant liquid, I will go clean all the high touch surfaces of my home.
Then I wash my hands again.

With these tips you can feel confident that you are doing enough to be safe when you go out shopping and when you return home.

When Should You Wash Your Hands 

According to the Center for Disease Control, in the US, these are all the times when you should wash your hands.
Before, during and after preparing food

Before eating food

Before and after caring for someone who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea

Before and after treating a cut or wound

After using the toilet

After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet

After glowing your nose, coughing or sneezing

After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste

After handling pet food or pet treats

After touching garbage

After having been in a public place

After touching a surface or item touched by many people

Before your touch your eyes, nose or mouth

The American government recommendations closely follow those of Canada.

If you work in a food plant, you would also wash your hands at every task change, when you enter food production areas, and often, everytime you change rooms, after smoking, after breaks, after touching your face, after coughing or sneezing, and after picking up items from the floor.

Check out my video on this topic:

Here is a link to another blog post in the series: Best Practices Against COVID In The Home To Keep Your Food Safe.

Check out posts on other topics here: Blog Table of Contents.

Join my monthly newsletter to get new posts in your mailbox and access to the recipe cards and tip sheets.

Comments are welcome. I would love to know what you think.

The Weekly Motto – Change brings opportunity. Embrace it.