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Monday, 18 May 2015

Tailgating Food Safety - Watch out for uninvited guests this summer when cooking outdoor.

Public Health Inspector Urges Outdoor Cooking or Tailgating Food Safely
by Jim Chan. #foodsafety #publichealth #BBQsafety.

Everyone loves outdoor cooking such as a BBQ or tailgatinwhere food is prepared and enjoyed near the back of a car or truck in the parking lot of a sporting, music or other large event. Unfortunately, so do nasty germs that can make people sick. With the free and easy feel of outdoor grilling, it’s easy to forget that the rules of safe food handling we use indoors still apply outdoors. In fact, cases of food-borne illness increase significantly during the summer months and outdoor cooking is suspected of being a major cause of the problem.

How to pack for tailgating safely
Make sure the cooler or the plug-in car mechanical cooler is large enough to hold all of the food and beverages. Before packing, make sure to remove any standing water or food debris in the cooler before washing and disinfecting the inside.  Make sure to have enough freezer gel or ice packs, and ice, to keep food cold, especially on hot days (tip: Freeze water in plastic bottles or juice packs to use as ice packs, and can drink the water or juice later). 

Safety and injury prevention

Before starting the BBQ, weather it is a charcoal or gas unit, just remember anytime you
work with fire, there is always a risk of getting seriously burned. First, you need to do some maintenance in order to ensure the BBQ is in good working condition BBQ safety check - GlobalNews and to avoid injuries. 

Also check the condition of the wire cleaning brush before each use and get rid of old brushes that are worn and with loose wire bristles or bristles start to stick to the grill (photo - right). It is important to keep the BBQ grill clean and free  

of debris but be very careful using wire brushes for cleaning BBQ as it is dangerous to have a sharp metal bristle lodged in the throat or esophagus that can result in potentially fatal chest infection, or along the digestive tract that in serious incidents, can pierce the bowel. Always use a proper brush (photo - left) or switch to alternatives to using wire grill brushes.

Remember food safety when cooking outdoor or tailgating
To prevent illness, Dr. Justin Beaver from the Health Inspector's Notebook Comic recommends you to follow the 4-Step Food Safety Guide.

Before handling food, thoroughly wash hands with soap and warm water.

Also wash and sanitize utensils, food containers, plates and cutting boards that come in contact with uncooked food to remove harmful bacteria.

Always sanitize utensils and food contact surfaces with a bleach-water solution (5 ml/1 tsp of bleach with 750 ml/3 cups of water).

Raw meat and their juices can contain harmful bacteria and can transfer to cooked food, so avoid cross contamination. 

Keep food covered whenever possible to protect it from contamination, as well as preventing contaminants from insects and birds dropping onto food. (Tip: Use plastic food containers Reusing plastic food containers). Store raw and cooked food in separate containers and bring extra clean utensils to handle raw and cooked food separately;

Heat kills harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli so raw 
meat must be cooked thoroughly to a safe internal temperature. 

When checking the internal temperature of meat, poultry, and seafood, always use a probe food thermometer to ensure food has reached a safe internal cooking temperature as indicated in the Cooking and Reheating Temperatures for Hazardous Foods chart from Toronto Public Health (Photo on right).

For ground beef burger, be sure to cook to an internal temperature of at least 71°C (160°F) and till the juice runs clear. 

For chicken pieces, cook to at least 74°C (165°F).

Harmful bacteria love the danger zone between 4°C to 60°C (40°F to 140°F). Always keep  
food cold at 4°C (40°F) until cooking and the same for storing leftovers. keep hot food hot to at least 60°C (140°F) after cooking and never keep food in the danger zone for too long. Food can spoil easily and bacteria can grow fast in the danger zone and can increase the risk of food-borne illness.

More food safety tips

Serving food: Use a clean utensils to remove cooked food from the grill and place in clean plates, 
never put cooked food on the same plate that held raw meat to prevents post-contaminated by raw meat juices.

Leftover food: Cool food by using shallow containers as it cools quickly and put them in the cooler or refrigerator. Discard any food left out at room temperature (Danger Zone) for more than 
two hours, however, on hot summer days, avoid keeping food out for more than one hour. 

       When in doubt, throw it out!

Check label: Most labels on food have cooking temperature and food safety instruction to educate customers on safe food handling and preparation. 

Avoid cross-contamination

Keep a can of water boiling on the grill to clean and sanitize cooking utensils such as tongs, 
forks between contacting raw meats and cooked meats and other food cooking on the grill. Boiling water is the best to keep utensil clean especially when there is no running water nearby when cooking outdoor (Photo - right).

Also, the hot water can wash off grease and sauce from the tip of the tongs making it easier to handle meats on the grill and much easier for the person washing dishes to remove caked on grease, sauce and food from the utensils later. 

Avoid the Danger Zone 

Temperatures in between °C / 41 °F to 60 °C / 135 ºF are in the Danger Zone

When perishable or hazardous food is left in the Danger Zone, bacteria can grow very fast and produce toxins that can cause food poisoning (most toxins from pathogens are heat stable and cannot be destroyed by regular cooking temperature).

Should mayonnaise be refrigerated or kept cold?

There is a misconception that mayonnaise can easily make people sick. Commercial mayonnaise and salad dressings are highly acidic condiments with ingredients such as pasteurized eggs and vinegar or lemon juice that create a low pH or high-acid environment that can slow or prevent bacterial growth. Salt is also added in commercial mayonnaise that contributes to the unfavorable environment for microbial growth. Despite the microbiological safety of commercial mayonnaise, it is recommended that once a jar or bottle of mayonnaise is opened and used, keep the remaining product is kept cold or refrigerated.

To learn more about BBQ food safety, Dr. Justin Beaver invites you to check out the Summer BBQ Food Safety  Guide.


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