ThedaCare Family Practitioner Shares Tips to Avoid Illnesses
When discussing summer safety, people don’t normally think of food, but they should.
“Summer is a time for picnics, camping and tailgating at ball games and these are all situations when food might not be kept at a safe temperature,” he said.
Bacteria grow quickly between 40 degrees and 140 degrees so it’s vital to keep food at its correct temperature, Dr. Sutton said. That means, hot foods should stay hot and cold foods should stay cold. Pasta and potato salads with mayonnaise or eggs are prime sources for food poisoning if not kept the right temperature.
“Put lots of ice in your cooler so the temperature stays below 40 degrees and keep food in there that needs to stay cold,” he said. “Throw out any food that is questionable in terms of food safety.”
When using a cooler, remember that a full one will maintain its cold temperature longer than a partially full one. Using frozen water bottles or frozen vegetables in the cooler will help keep the temperature below 40 degrees for a longer period of time. Another tip to keep the cooler “cool” is placing it in the shade.
Keeping raw meat for grilling separate from other food is also important, Dr. Sutton said. Use separate plates and utensils for raw meat and other food.
“Cook meat fully and don’t let food sit at room temperature for more than two hours and even shorter if it’s warm outside,” he said.
If marinating food, do it in the refrigerator and not on a kitchen counter or outdoors. Reserve a portion of the marinade separately if planning to use as a sauce on the cooked food. Farm markets are popular during the summer and a great way to add more fruits and vegetables to a person’s diet, but it’s important to keep safety in mind when choosing and eating them, too, Dr. Sutton said.
Clean all produce by washing fruits and vegetables under running tap water before packing them in a cooler or eating them. Don’t forget to wash fruits with skins or rinds that are not eaten since there is still potential for bacteria to get from there to hands and the part being eaten. If the produce has firm skins, try using a vegetable brush under running tap water to wash off potential bacteria. Dry everything with a clean cloth towel or paper towel.
When eating outside, be sure to clean the surfaces well before placing food on them, even when it’s in containers or on plates.
“Eating outside during the summer is a tradition for many of us so it’s important to follow basic food safety rules so your good time isn’t ruined by illness,” Dr. Sutton said. “If you’re unsure about something, dispose of it instead of taking that risk.”
For more than 100 years, ThedaCare™ has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast Wisconsin. The organization serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 7,000 healthcare professionals throughout the region. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 34 clinics in 14 counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service. The ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center in Appleton opened in February. For more information, visit www.thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.